Sustainability

Sustainable Event Planning

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Written by Caitlyn Hillis of Butler Seattle.

As the momentum around sustainability grows, NWES is taking the time to think about the impact our show has on the environment. There are so many incredible ideas and new things happening in the area of event sustainability that we are striving to be better and hope we can inspire you to do so as well.

The average person produces 1.89KG of waste at a conference according to meetgreen.com.  That means our 4,000 attendees on the NWES showroom floor would generate roughly 7,560KGs of waste in a single day. That’s a lot of waste! If every person that walks through the showroom door -- producer, exhibitor or attendee -- made even small changes, those small changes could make a huge difference in reducing our impact on the planet.

In honor of Earth Day, we have compiled some easy changes you can use in your events to make the world a little greener. A strategy is key: You won’t be able to track or make tangible progress on a more sustainable event without knowing some places that can become environmentally friendlier. It is important to note that it only takes one person within your team or company to make a small yet overwhelmingly positive change. If one person takes charge of sustainability as you plan an event, they can easily create swaps you can add to every event and avoid slipping back into old habits. 

The environmental impact can be significant when everyone makes small, or better yet, big changes!

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Here are some proven strategies:

  • Setting up recycling (maybe even composting in cities where this is an option) can cut down on what ends up being sent to a landfill.

  • Decide when planning for an event if you will only hand out extra goodies to your VIPs, strong leads or other pre-selected groups to ensure the items have value for both you and your clients to prevent unnecessary discards. As an attendee, take only what you will use.

  • Embrace digital content distribution for your event. Extra handouts and reminders not only create more trash, they become burdens for your attendees to carry around.

  • Handing out business cards can be an excellent tool, however,  gathering information via QR codes can also be effective in gathering potential client information. It produces no waste and it’s harder to lose those contacts.

  • Think outside the box. Use recycled or up-cycled materials to create a display or booth that can incorporate reusable key elements for the next booth or another project altogether.

  • Focus your booth on the attendee experience rather than what you can hand them.

  • Choose to host your events in a LEED certified building.

  • When you and your team are going to events, coordinate a carpool, take the bus or the train if possible. This year Butler Seattle will provide eco-friendly transportation by offering a shuttle service from key Seattle locations and surrounding areas to and from the NWES.

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Thinking green doesn’t have to be overwhelming or a stumbling block to creating fabulous booths and incredible events. Inspiration is essential in our industry, and we would love to hear about the changes you have made to be more sustainable. Add your comments below about the changes you’ve made for an event, or tell us about a new eco-friendly product you love. Every ‘green’ event inspires more green events and less waste. We are in the perfect position to gently shift our clients and our community toward a greener, cleaner, future.