Sustainable events, a way to improve the planet
- Reducing the environmental footprint
Events can have a large environmental impact, especially due to the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the attendees that travel to them and transporting the necessary infrastructure. However, there are ways to reduce this impact without needing vast resources.
How to get to an event
A simple way to reduce an event’s environmental impact is to choose a location accessible by foot or public transportation. This can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions produced by transporting attendees the last mile and it facilitates sustainable mobility.
It is also important to have parking for bicycles and to collaborate with public transportation companies to increase the frequency of transport, and to offer gifts and bonuses to attendees who choose lower impact means of transportation. Promoting transportation via car-sharing can also be a good option, as mobile applications can be used to put different users in contact and establish bonuses or better parking spaces for people who arrive in a shared car.
What about having the attendees connect online?
Although it is not always possible to avoid traveling to attend events in person, offering the possibility to follow the event remotely via streaming can be a good way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by travel. This can be especially useful for presenters who come from other parts of the world, or so that the attendees can watch the presentations that interest them without having to leave home.
Choosing materials that can be reused or recycled
Organizing an event involves using a broad variety of materials and services that make it possible. Notable items include decorations and props, merchandising items, paper, sound and lighting equipment, scenery, bars, food, and beverages.
We must prioritize the materials with the least impact on the environment, that is, that are reusable for other purposes or other events, or that can be recycled. In any case, we must have adequately labeled waste receptacles to be able to separate the materials, for both the production team and for the general public.
An example would be not to personalize decorations and merchandising materials so they can be reused at future events. In addition, QR codes can be used to provide access to event documentation, in order to avoid printing on paper, return systems for items such as credentials or identifiers can be created, or once the event is over, useful materials can be donated to charity projects.
- Guaranteeing diversity and inclusion
Accessible for all
When it comes time to selecting a location for the event, we must consider whether it is correctly adapted for people with reduced mobility, and inform people about accessibility to the area, in order to guarantee that those attendees who need to can access it comfortably and securely.
Understandable to all
In addition, if there are discussions or lectures, we must consider the option of simultaneous translation, both to other languages if we have foreign attendees, and to sign language for people with hearing impairment.
Socially responsible providers
When contracting outside services, we have providers who meet ESG criteria, in this case, focusing on the social part: their hiring policy, how they care for their employees or their local communities, and how they protect their rights.
Also, we must not forget the importance of having the same number of men and women on staff, as well as people with disabilities, in order to guarantee diversity and inclusion, not just at your event, but in your company.
- Awareness-raising programs
It is fundamental to establish a waste prevention policy based on raising environmental awareness to avoid the production of unnecessary waste. In this way, both attendees, as well as organizers and providers, will understand the importance of minimizing the amount of waste at source and recovering materials.
In addition, to promote separating materials, adequate containers must be provided and labeled for each type of waste during the event, as well as having posters with key awareness-raising messages.
We must also raise awareness about the social side of the event, providing transparent data about how this event contributes to the companies we collaborate with, or the community. Individual actions can also be proposed for attendees to express their solidarity, such as through volunteering or donations.
- Analysis of the results post-event
In order to guarantee that the event has been as sustainable as we expected, we must conduct an audit, confirming the main data:
- What transportation has been used by all attendees (guests, organizers, and providers). This is the most difficult data to obtain, and it can be obtained through attendee surveys.
- Transport of materials and infrastructures, what distance they traveled, and by what means of transportation.
- Energy and water consumption of the event.
- Amount of waste generated (kilograms).
- Quantity of materials in good condition that can be reused.
Once these indicators have been compiled, the event’s carbon and environmental footprint can be measured. The carbon footprint refers to the total quantity of CO2 and other greenhouse gases directly or indirectly emitted by the event throughout its life cycle, and is expressed in terms of CO2 equivalent. Meanwhile, the environmental footprint evaluates and weighs the main environmental impacts produced throughout the life cycle of an event, and is measured in impact points, which is a standardized and weighted measure of the various environmental factors.
MAPFRE’s sustainable event
The fourth MAPFRE Annual General Meeting which took place this month was a certified sustainable event, which implies that both its planning and development considered inclusive labor criteria and respect for diversity, as well as environmental protection.