September 12, 2019

An Insider’s Guide to Hosting a Sustainable Event

As a venue where knowledge sharing and community connections take precedence, we opened our doors this summer to welcome Kathleen Corrigan, our sustainability intern. Throughout her experience, Kathleen provided our team with invaluable support as she excelled in her internship, coordinating multiple projects and gathering an insider’s perspective on the topic of green meetings to share with our guests and planners.

When it comes to sustainability, convention centres are ahead of the curve and ready to develop innovative changes which align with industry best practice. The Edmonton Convention Centre (ECC) is one of Edmonton’s most influential buildings, functioning as a catalyst of green change in our city, and in the venues and events industry. It is no secret that our world is changing at a rapid rate, and action is required that will better the impacts of our industry’s carbon footprint. As our future becomes more challenging, the growing demand and importance of green event solutions becomes more present. Whether it’s bringing people together for meetings, concerts, or events, the ECC is dedicated to offering sustainable gatherings and empowering our guests to take-action.

As she collaborated with event planners and sustainability managers, Kathleen gathered helpful tips to make your next event more sustainable.


How to make your next event more sustainable:

1.) Inform your participants.

  • Planning and organizing the many areas of a sustainable event can be a challenge. That’s why it’s important to have information readily available for guests, so everyone in attendance is aware of the event’s sustainable practices. When communicating information, we recommended that planners:
    • Offer sustainable menu options, and share the impact of your guests’ green choices.
    • Support local! Feature regional producers, vendors or speakers who are paving the way to make an impact in their community.
    • Educate and encourage sustainable action through detailed signage, adding compost bins, or through digital technology that allows your event to go paperless.

2.) Reduce waste.

  • With all large gatherings, waste in most events is inevitable. However, there are alternatives to reduce and divert the amount of waste an event produces.
    • Establish a plan to manage waste.
      • Accurately plan the amount of food required by tracking event attendance and confirming with your venue.
      • Choose a program where leftovers food can be donated and go to those in need. At the ECC, we partner with the Edmonton Food Bank and in 2018, we donated 5,288 meals to their Second Helping program.
      • Decide to go plastic-free with the use paper straws instead of plastic straws and offer plastic alternatives at your event.
      • Provide your guests with water stations, a pitcher of water or encourage them to BYOB (bring your own bottle).
      • Provide digital coupons or electronic alternative that eliminate the excess packaging from swag bags.

3.) Reuse or up-cycle where you can.

  • Lessen waste and make your event more sustainable by reusing or up-cycling items.
    • Consider renting or collecting re-used décor items. Any leftover décor, like flowers, can be donated to make someone else’s day!
    • Source re-purposed signage and choose a recyclable alternative that won’t end up in landfill, like our 100% FSC Certified signage (look for our recyclable stamp).
    • Instead of offering plastics, choose to materials like biodegradable cutlery, enviro-friendly cloths and glasses instead of plastic cups.

4.) Location is everything!

  • Identify your sustainable event goals and choose a venue that will support you and help you to meet those goals. A reputable venue will encourage you to ask questions and ensure that your event is successful.
    • The ECC is pleased to offer our clients a post-event waste audit to shout your green results from the rooftops!
    • Choose a central location that is close to transit, or offer your guests green transport incentives like biking or shuttle buses.

5.) Save more when you go green.

  • If you’re hosting a sustainable event, chances are you might be worried about budget. But, worry not! Hosting a sustainable event can save you money.
    • Rent vs. buy where you can and purchase place cards and banners that are made from recycled materials.
    • Offer composting bins and save on the cost of transporting waste to landfill.
    • Use local, environmentally conscious suppliers whenever possible.
    • Use bulk water vs. bottled water and consider offer plant-based food alternatives that reduce the impact of preparing meat.

Now more than ever, our active decisions no matter how big or small, have a lasting impact. Sustainability needs to be a priority in our everyday lifestyle choices. When you choose to make a sustainable change, you’re choosing to make a difference that leaves a positive legacy in the community and on your guests.



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