A Step-by-Step Guide to Organising Sustainable Events


As environmental concerns continue to soar, it’s become imperative for many businesses to organise and deliver sustainable events.

It’s in our blood so we’re thrilled that this shift is starting to move the industry in the right direction – and to be honest, even if you’re against it or don’t see the urgency yet – ignore it at your peril.

Shareholders, clients, suppliers: everyone is starting to look at this more deeply and sometime soon, someone is going to ask questions to make sure that you are adapting your approach for the good of the planet and the people on it.

We’re already speaking with hotels that have lost business because they couldn’t demonstrate their sustainability practices and it won’t be long before that translates into agencies and planners losing out as a result of ignoring the dawn of this new era.

HOWEVER – be warned!! Success in this field required more than good intentions. You need to carefully adopt eco-friendly practices throughout the process, from venue selection to lights out as you wave off the last delegate standing. It’s no longer enough to chuck a few cardboard cups around and consider yourself ‘green’. We’re talking about a wholesale change from the ground up which looks into every detail and makes those vital marginal gains throughout the planning process.

This article zones in on the key considerations at each stage, enabling you to plan and put on sustainable events that make a positive impact on your stakeholders and the environment.

  • Finding the Perfect Place

Prioritise hotels and venues that align with your sustainable values. Many of them that are going all-in on sustainability are quite rightly shout loudly and proudly about their energy efficiency, waste reduction, and water conservation. Plus, the recent advent of event sustainability measurement tools has made sustainable procurement much easier to get right.

In addition to the venues themselves, don’t forget to think about accessible public transportation options to encourage attendees to reduce their carbon emissions.

  • Recognising Sustainability Excellence

Look for recognised seals of approval such as:

ISO 20121 for sustainable event management systems

B Corp certification for overall sustainability commitments

Accreditations of this calibre demonstrate genuine environmental responsibility when you’re seeking event partners who really walk the talk.

There’s a huge variety of venue and other sustainability badges jostling to find their place in the market at the moment, and we’re hoping that it will eventually settle down to a couple of big hitters that everyone adopts.

However, in the meantime, you can check out our Sustainability Hub for a list of the main ones we have found and what they mean.

  • Engaging Sustainable Suppliers

Collaboration with sustainable suppliers is a surefire step to hosting eco-friendly and ethical events. To this end, it’s essential to look closely at supplier credentials in areas such as ethical sourcing, sustainable production methods, and minimised waste.

So don’t be afraid to proactively invite tenders from suppliers offer environmentally friendly alternatives, from biodegradable or compostable serving ware to LED lighting.

  • Mindful Event Planning

Keep sustainability front of mind at every single touchpoint of your event. For example:

  • Minimising paper waste by leveraging digital platforms for invitations, registrations, and event programmes
  • Providing recycling and composting stations, clearly labelled throughout your venue/s, to ensure environmentally friendlier waste management
  • Levelling up energy conservation by using venues with efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems, plus the little things that mount up, like encouraging attendees to switch off unnecessary devices
  • Consider your waste – how to reduce the quantity of food that’s wasted and arranging for charities to collect any that is left at the end of the event. This is a whole separate topic so watch this space for a more detailed explanation of the possibilities!
  • Re-Thinking Event ‘STUFF’

There’s so much of it! Signage / giveaways / uniforms / badges / lanyards / branding / themeing / flowers…..

If you are spending money on it, please stop to think about how to make it better for the planet or how you can direct that budget into improving people’s lives by supporting fair trade / local and independent companies.

Let’s be honest, there isn’t much good to say about traditional goody bags filled with single-use plastic trinkets that often ended up in landfills! Now is the time to look at some of the inspired alternatives on the market that align with your sustainability goals. From reusable water bottles to organic snacks, the choice of quality sustainable merchandise continues to grow and grow.

Sack off cut flowers flown in from hot houses around the world and replace with locally grown pot plants that can be given to charities or staff after the event.

Abandon costly event branding with dates / locations blazoned across it and design clever, reusable items that can be brought out for future events.

Rather than purchase anything new, see if you can find a repurposed or recycled option from local suppliers and / or find a way to donate anything you don’t need to charities. We highly recommend the fabulous work of Event Cycle to make this easier.

  • Carbon Offsetting

Despite best efforts, some aspects of an event may still have an environmental impact. So, if you absolutely have to do something that’s not sustainable, what can you do to offset?

The University of London Venues Team explain: “C02 offsetting is the process of financially supporting projects around the world that work to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Offset schemes vary widely in terms of cost, however you can expect to pay around £8 for each tonne of CO2 your event produces.”

They recommend the Carbon Footprint site for calculating your emission and choosing your preferred offset project from a compelling portfolio.

In 2023 and beyond, hosting sustainable events isn’t just a trend but a responsible choice that contributes to a healthier planet. For this purpose, the incorporation of sustainable practices into every stage of event management equips you to make an invaluable contribution to tomorrow’s world.

At Brightspace Events, we’re 100% committed to sustainable events. This includes sourcing and forging partnerships with other like-minded suppliers on your behalf, from environmentally conscious caterers to green logistics.

Get in touch for help with sourcing sustainable venues and / or suppliers. Let’s join together in creating a brighter, more sustainable future, one event at a time.