How to start event greening

An introduction to event greening: Part 3 of a 4 part series by the Event Greening Forum.
After reading part 1 and part 2 of this series, you’re hopefully fired up and ready to start implementing event greening practices in your business. Read on for how to get started.
Note: the following outline is taken from the City of Cape Town’s Smart Events Handbook, a great resource for event greening. You can download a free copy of it from our website,, under the resources tab, under downloads.
Step 1: Decisions
First, decide how much event greening you want to do. If it’s your first time, start small and look for low hanging fruit (i.e. the easiest practices to carry out, which will have the biggest impact). Consider factors like: who will be responsible for it; what support will they need; how much will you need to budget for it; how will you measure your success; and what benefits you are hoping to achieve. Once you have a clear idea of this, write a ‘statement of intent’.
TOP TIP: Include event greening in the early stages of planning your event. Trying to add it in later increases your risk of running into problems, such as less commitment from stakeholders, miscommunication and missed opportunities, poor implementation, and going over budget.
Step 2: Preparation
Next, put together an event greening team and appoint someone to lead it. Find suitable staff – both in terms of their role in the project, and their willingness to take on a new challenge. Make sure there is at least one high-level decision maker on the team.
TOP TIP: Educate your team about what event greening is and why you are doing it. You might want to give them some basic training, which the Event Greening Forum (EGF) can provide.
Step 3: Planning
Ask your green team to create a green policy and action plan for the event, based on your statement of intent. Make sure all goals are SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time specific), and that the each person’s responsibilities are fair and clearly identified.
Keep your planning and expectations flexible. As with all things event-related, it’s likely you will need to make tweaks as you go along.
Step 4: Implementation
Clearly communicate your event greening to everyone involved in the event, with regular updates throughout the planning phase, as well as during and after the event. Some stakeholders will be greatly affected by it, so keep the channels of communication open. Make sure your marketing team are well-informed. They will be responsible for conveying these efforts more broadly, and must do so accurately. (Remember, false green claims are a form of greenwashing and can harm your reputation!)
Step 5: Monitoring and evaluation
Make sure your action plan includes guidance on: what to measure; how and when to do this; who will be responsible for it; how to record challenges; and what the final report will contain. This monitoring will let you know how successful your event greening has been, and help you set realistic future goals.
TOP TIP: Consider making your post-event report available to the public. This kind of transparency gives greater legitimacy to your achievements and is a useful learning tool for others in the industry.
Click here to read part 4, the final installment in this series, which will include an event greening case study. This is a useful way to understand how the theory of event greening can be implemented in practice.
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Areas to implement event greening

Venue & accommodation: Consider using certified venues and hotels that have an environmental policy and/or green packages. Share your event greening plan with them, and ask how they are able to support it.

Transport: Try to cut unnecessary travel for your event. For example, can the delegates use public transport or can you provide shuttles? Alternatively, can you use an eco-friendly form of transport, such as pedal cabs?

Catering: Request sustainable menus. This means using locally sourced ingredients, which are seasonal, and – if budget allows – organic. Also consider a meat-free meal. Animal agriculture is responsible for high volumes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy: Cut down your event’s energy footprint with simple measures such as switching off lights or aircon when not needed, and using energy efficient technology. You can also buy renewable energy certificates to power your event.

Water: The best way to limit your event’s water use is to find a venue that has good water management systems in place. You can also think more broadly for other ways to lower your water footprint, such as cutting your laundry needs by not using tablecloths or chair covers.

Waste: Find ways to reduce your waste, and to dispose of it responsibly. Ideas to reduce waste include: go digital to cut down on printed materials, opt for table décor that is edible or re-usable, and serve all food and beverages with reusable crockery and cutlery. Responsible waste management strategies include recycling and organic waste collection (which can be composted).

Positive legacy: What kind of legacy do you want your event to have? Try to work with your beneficiary of choice, so you understand their needs and can give them something of real value. Your legacy could also be a partial or complete offset of your event’s carbon footprint, by planting trees or investing in a solar power project. Always work with a reputable company who can manage this process for you.


Photo courtesy of Neven Krcmarek via

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