5 ways to gear-shift your events’ sustainability efforts

Banning single-use plastics, going paperless, choosing an eco-friendly venue; these are the kinds of changes that probably spring to mind when it comes to reducing your events’ environmental impact. And these changes are both crucial and commendable. 

But perhaps you’re now wondering what else you can do to really push forwards with your sustainability goals, as an event creator. How can you weave sustainability into your event’s very DNA, for example? And, perhaps even more excitingly, how can you influence the decisions and actions of others, to grow your events’ positive environmental impact exponentially?

Read on for our take on the subject, which includes lots of invaluable insights from event industry professionals who recently took part in an event sustainability webinar held by us here at Ticket Tailor.

  1. Get your event community engaged with your environmental message

    As an event creator, you have the opportunity to get your attendees thinking about environmental impact from the very first moment you start interacting with them.

    Rather than focusing solely on the actions you and your event collaborators can take, you can also encourage your attendees to do the same. Hannah Cox, who is the Founder of Better Business Network – a platform that seeks to help purpose-driven business owners and leaders “grow their business and make the world a better place” – explains: 

    “It’s about thinking; when people are buying their ticket do they have an opportunity to donate to charity? Do they have an opportunity to carbon offset their ticket price? Are they being asked to consider how they’re going to be getting to the event that you’re running – whether that’s by public transport or car or car sharing? [...] Something I always recommend is to do a bit of a customer journey [...] from the moment a customer starts interacting with your event, where are the opportunities for talking to them about how they can be more sustainable?”

    She suggests some other ways to get your event community more engaged with sustainability, too, including:

    Making it more difficult for them to travel to your event by car – you could implement a ‘car tax’ or ‘carbon tax’ for those who choose to do so, for example.

    Making sure you’re telling attendees why you’ve made certain choices surrounding environmental impact. This is one of the best ways to get them on board with your mission – and feeling as though they are a part of it, collectively with you.

  2. Choose a ticketing platform that 100% shares and helps facilitate your vision

    Your ticketing partner is there to support you with a range of crucial event planning tasks. But have you ever considered that it can also be so much more than this?

    For example, we’re really proud of our environmental commitments here at Ticket Tailor (hi! 👋), which we think you’ll be interested in if you’re reading this article. First up, we’re a B-Corp, which means we meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. 

    Or, in less jargon-y words: we care about a lot more than just making profit. Which means walking the walk, not just talking the talk. That’s why we actively seek to use our business to affect genuine, positive change. For example, our Penny for the Planet promise sees us donating 1p for every ticket sold through our platform to environmental charities. 

    We also have tons of features that can help support you, in a more practical way, as an event planner who is passionate about sustainability. Like our Donations feature, which makes it really easy for attendees to donate to an environmental cause of your choice at checkout. You can also customise your checkout form to find out key information from your attendees, like how they plan to travel to your event, or where they're coming from – both of which could help you understand your ticket-buyer travel emissions, which you could then look to offset. 

    Our Product Store feature can come in handy too – why not sell eco-friendly products alongside your tickets, such as reusable cups, water bottles or bamboo cutlery sets to empower your attendees to make environmentally conscious decisions?

  3. Outsource to innovative environmental problem-solvers

    There’s no rule that says you must take on all of your sustainability efforts alone. In fact, seeking help from specialist initiatives can help you significantly improve in this area. Damien Carlier is a Strategic Consultant for Pura Vida festival – a festival that offers an “experience for personal wellbeing, collective awakening and planetary regeneration.” He talks openly about the festival’s realisation that it didn’t make sense to try to handle all aspects of sustainability alone. Instead, they decided it would make more sense to outsource certain aspects of this.

    For example, instead of trying to make money from implementing their own glamping area, they outsourced this to a specialist glamping equipment supplier. This meant they were also able to team up with Zootopia – a glamping organisation that makes sure any tents left behind at a festival are recycled and re-rented. As well as this, they teamed up with an eco-toilet provider called Finizio, which recycles the, erm, produce of the festival toilets into composting. Clever. 

  4. Explore thought-provoking measures to create wider behavioural change

    As well as all the smaller changes you can take on as an event creator – there are also bigger moves you can make to help get people talking… and thinking.

    Hannah Cox explains that it’s about asking yourself how you can plant an idea in your audience's head. Take Shambala festival, as an example. They don’t serve any meat or dairy at their event, but at the same time – they don’t call themselves a vegan festival. Aka – you don’t have to be a dedicated ‘vegan event’ to implement this kind of planet-friendly initiative.

    A bold move like this helps to get people thinking about their own meat and dairy consumption. In other words – if they can go for a whole festival without it, maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to cut down at home. In fact, Hannah claims that a survey ran after one Shambala festival revealed a huge amount of people had, post-event, massively cut down or even completely eliminated meat and dairy from their diets. 

  5. Make it easy for your attendees to make the right choices

    While those who attend events like Pura Vida Festival are highly likely to be engaged with the environmental agenda already – other events will appeal to those who may not have given it as much thought. With this in mind, one simple but very impactful thing you can do to improve your event’s sustainability efforts is to make things as easy as possible for those who may not be fully engaged with your mission.

    Mark O’Hare is the founder of Thorington Theatre, which – to put it lightly – takes the idea of venue sustainability to a whole new (and rather enchanting) level. The outdoor theatre is nestled in beautiful woodland, making use of  a natural amphitheatre left behind by a WWII bomb. It’s crafted from coppiced Chestnut trees (so, trees that would be cut down at the base anyway to encourage new growth). And it was constructed with the smallest carbon footprint possible. 

    Mark explains that, as a theatre that puts on everything from Shakespeare to stand-up comedy, their venue attracts a very diverse audience. He says that simple things, like making sure their recycling bins are clearly signposted and very hard not to use right, helps them help others to do their bit for the environment.

    Learn more about Thorington Theatre’s incredible sustainability efforts >

Closing thoughts

The opportunities for reducing your events’ carbon footprint are vast, but it’s important not to get overwhelmed by the possibilities. Exploring just one point from this list could see you making a huge difference over time. Both bold environmental moves – like banning all meat and dairy produce from your events – and simpler ones – like making your recycling bins super easy to use – can be seriously impactful. The key is to give things a go, and approach your sustainability efforts with an open, curious mind. In doing so, you'll probably be surprised at how much you can achieve.  

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