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Your Guide to Planning Sustainable Hybrid Events

Live and virtual, the perfect mix for sustainability?

The world has been rapidly shifting towards digital events. Whereas the human aspect that physical contact provides is removed (Covid brought us here, which we don’t support!), there are at least some eco benefits. So here’s how to plan for your sustainable hybrid event.

Hosting an event is a strategic way for you to increase revenue for your business. Events allow you to network with other professionals, connect with future business partners, and show customers the value you can bring. Like a vacation, they interrupt people’s usual routine and can be a lot of fun.

However, throwing business events isn’t always a sustainable practice. Catering can lead to food waste, large venues use a great deal of electricity, and attendees who travel from far away increase the fossil fuel waste present in Earth’s atmosphere. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to host a successful and sustainable event that helps your business grow.

  • Digitize Everything

By definition, a hybrid event is a combination of virtual and physical elements. You can reduce your event’s environmental impact by digitizing as many event items as possible. For example, choose digital invitations, RSVPs, and itineraries to save paper and reduce event waste.

Although the exact combination of virtual and physical elements is up to you, hybrid events offer a unique opportunity to reduce travel pollution. Consider inviting local attendees to a physical venue and offering virtual attendance to people who live far away. Some events simply bring speakers together and then broadcast to a fully virtual audience.

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  • Consider Your Audience

The platforms you choose for your event should reflect the habits and preferences of your audience. They also need to be secure, professional, and easy to understand. Complicated apps and confusing messaging platforms will discourage virtual attendees from staying and experiencing the full event.

To engage your virtual audience, consider sending email instructions for how to set up their homes for a good experience. For example, setting the mood with music, a warm drink, and a dress code can make an event at home feel valuable and improve attendee focus. You could even mail out event boxes to make virtual attendance more tangible and engaging.

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  • Opt for Reusables

To make the physical part of your event more sustainable, borrow and rent reusable decor. This can include tables and electronic equipment as well as decor items like flowers and tablecloths. Although disposable items are often cheaper, the extra cost is worth it to improve the sustainability of your event.

In addition to benefiting the Earth, switching to reusable items will elevate the whole experience of your event. In five-star restaurants, the meal is never served on disposable plates – regardless of how “nice” they look. Using real dishes, cloth table coverings, and rented glassware will make your event both elegant and more sustainable.

Packaging waste makes up one-third of what is delivered to landfills each year

  • Choose Eco-friendly Brands

When it comes to choosing gifts and prizes for your event, partner with eco-friendly businesses. If they’re local, that’s even better. Thankfully, rising interest in sustainability means many small businesses are starting to prioritize eco-friendly supply chains and production methods. The items you hand out should reflect your business values.

You can also work with local restaurants to design an eco-friendly menu for the physical portion of the event. Choose seasonal foods local to your area and opt for recyclable napkins and storage containers. You should also have a plan for what to do with extra food – consider composting food scraps instead of sending them to the dump.

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  • Offer Transparency

One of the best ways to build trust with your attendees is by offering them transparency about the sustainability of your event. By sharing your choices, you can inspire them to be more sustainable, both during and after the event. Consider hiring a professional to evaluate the impact of your event so you can share exact numbers with attendees.

Unless your event is focused on environmental issues, there’s no need to talk about your sustainability choices for an extended period of time. However, eco-conscious attendees will appreciate a quick mention of how intentional you’ve been, perhaps with a link to further information if they’re interested.

10 Tips for Cultivating Employee Personal Responsibility around Sustainability

Go Hybrid for Sustainability

Hybrid events offer an incredible opportunity to bring people together without negatively impacting the planet. Use these five tips to increase the sustainability of your next business event and make connections with other like-minded professionals.

Hosting events can be complicated, so give yourself permission to make this sustainability journey slowly. The best hybrid events are focused on how you can meet the needs of your combined audience and demonstrate value in the most authentic, ethical way possible. Make your next business event a hybrid one to extend your reach while reducing the collective environmental impact of getting together.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. We only share contents that are aligned with an ethical, sustainable, eco-conscious world. Read more about our Terms & Conditions here
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Jane Marsh

Jane is the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life.

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