Key Impact Areas of Sustainable Events (Part 2/2)

In the 2nd of a 2 part series (read the 1st part here), we’re looking at how certain areas of an event – accommodations, marketing materials, and products in general – can affect its overall sustainability impact in the economic, social, and environmental dimensions.
2 Bed Hotel Room

Planning an event itself can be a difficult task in the first place and choosing to do so in a more sustainable manner can add a degree of difficulty. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By breaking down an event’s sustainability impacts into more focused categories, the task can be made much easier.

Part 2 of 2 – Accommodations, Marketing & Products in General

Part 1
1. Event Venue
2. Food and Beverage
3. Transportation
Read here >

Part 2
4. Accommodations
5. Marketing Materials
6. Products in General

Please keep in mind that these are introductions only and that each area could be elaborated upon many times over. Here, we will present some of the most common sustainability factors relating to each area. If you wish to learn more, please do not hesitate to contact us.

4. Accommodations

Accommodations are the hotels, or lodging facilities, recommended or provided to participants who require private space before, during, and/or after an event. It can be difficult for organizers to exert direct influence in this area. 

However, there are ways that they can influence the behaviour of participants by providing them with good information and incentivizing certain options (e.g. group booking discounts for hotels within walking distance of the meeting venue).

The following describes several economic, social, and environmental factors related to accommodations:

Economic Sustainability
– Affordability (e.g. group discounts)
– Availability and cost of transportation to and from the venue

Social Sustainability
– Accessibility for persons with disabilities (e.g. barrier-free rooms and amenities)
– Quality and comfort of facilities, rooms, and amenities available
– Business standards and reputability (e.g. recognized for being a fair and equitable employer)
– Facilities meet health and safety regulations

Environmental Sustainability
– Environmental aspects of the building and its operation (e.g. it meets a certification like Green Hotels Global or Green Key Eco-Rating Program)
– Proximity to event venue and/or public transportation options
– Responsible standards and practices (e.g. option of reduced linen changes, low temperature laundry, and use of low-impact cleaning products)

5. Marketing Materials

Marketing materials include any documentation or media used to promote an event or to communicate information during the event itself. This could include, but is not limited to, invitations, signage, posters, tickets, and programs. The following describes several economic, social, and environmental factors related to marketing materials and other media:

Stack of magazines

Economic Sustainability

– Cost of developing and distributing media
– Effectiveness of promotional media
– Designing materials for efficient printing (e.g. minimizing the number of colours or adjusting the layout of a document)
– Reusability of materials (e.g. developing quality signage without dates so that it can used at multiple events)

Social Sustainability
– Availability of information in multiple languages (e.g. publishing media in English, French, and other languages suited to the audience’s needs, providing presentation translators, etc.)
– Accommodating persons with disabilities (e.g. large print for those with poor eyesight, brail for those who are blind, etc.)

Environmental Sustainability
– Using electronic media when available in place of paper or vinyl (e.g. digital programs, LCD screens, etc.)
– Printing media on materials that are reusable and/or recyclable
– Energy efficiency of printing facilities
– Printing with low-impact ink (e.g. vegetable- or soy-based alternatives)

6. Products in General

General products include any supplies and supplementary items that are used during the planning and execution of the event.  The types of products can vary dramatically from one event to another and may include, but are not limited to, giveaways, prizes, decorations, office supplies, reusable bags, and folders.

The following describes several economic, social, and environmental factors related to products in general:

Economic Sustainability
– The cost of the product purchased versus alternatives
– The necessity of the product to the success of the event
– The durability of the product (e.g. product is easy to maintain and economical to repair)
– Option of renting, leasing, or borrowing products where possible
– Purchasing more from the same supplier may help secure a pricing discount

Social Sustainability
– Product health and safety standards (e.g. buying products that use non-toxic and not WHMIS-controlled substances)
– Ethical production of products (e.g. labour standards applied to manufacturing)
– Ease of use (e.g. products do not require special training for their use)

Environmental Sustainability
– Limiting over-purchasing of products or eliminating it unless necessary
– Use of low-impact products (e.g. efficient manufacturing, low-impact materials, recyclable or compostable)
– Reusability of products (e.g. flip charts, markers, nametags, etc.)
– Sourcing from local companies known to have strong environmental practices versus companies that ship over great distances

If you haven’t already, check out the 1st part of this 2 part series where we look at venue, food and beverage and transportation.


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