November 10th, 2023 | Alex

How To Make Your Live Event More Sustainable

Events are occasions where hundreds, or even thousands of people get together to celebrate and have a fun time, often with a common shared interest. 

Running these events takes a lot of time, effort and resources.

These resources aren’t infinite, which is why it is wise to look at how we can make events more sustainable for the future.

Events of all sizes can make an impact on the environment, if they are run in a more sustainable way we can help reduce this significantly.

In this post, we will look at ways in which we can make an event more sustainable, and explore how to save money and resources as well as helping the environment.

A concert taking place

What is a Sustainable Event?

A sustainable event is an event that has been organised with strategic eco-friendly and sustainable practices and goals, aiming to limit the impact the event has on the environment and local community.

When an event adopts sustainable ways of doing things, it can have a huge impact on the potential negative outcomes that events can cause.

Events require a huge amount of materials, energy and resources to pull off successfully, especially huge events that attract attendees in their tens of thousands, often from all over the country (or the world). 

When you plan an event that is sustainable you will essentially look at ways to:

  • Reduce waste.
  • Save energy.
  • Recycle.
  • Re-use.
  • Limiting carbon emissions.
  • Save water.
  • And more.

Sustainable events also aim to promote social well-being by considering the welfare of attendees and local communities, often by supporting local businesses and engaging in community outreach. Think of Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres World Tour.

They embody a commitment to balance the needs of the environment, society, and the economy, while also providing a great experience for all involved.

How to Make your Event More Sustainable

Making your live event more sustainable is not only good for the environment but also for your organisation’s reputation, and cost savings. Here are some tips to help you make your live event more sustainable:

Venue Selection

Venues play a huge role in the sustainability of an event.

This is where your event will be hosted so potentially thousands of attendees will be there. All of them will have to make their own way there via travel arrangements.

A way to help sustainability is by placing the venue near public transport locations e.g. bus stations or train stations.

Usually, if your event is based in a relatively big city it will have all the capabilities of providing suitable public transport.

Replacing car journeys with public transport can help reduce CO2 emissions by 42%. If you use a train instead this can be reduced further by 72%. 

Travel isn’t the only factor that contributes to a sustainable venue.

The venue itself should boost sustainable practices such as energy-efficient lighting, water conservation, and waste recycling programs.

Government bodies such as the UKGBC help find ways of making built environments more environmentally sustainable.   

Waste Reduction

Events will produce waste no matter what. It’s a natural byproduct of gathering large crowds of people together.

The good thing is that there are ways in which we can limit this waste and stop it from making such a huge impact on the local environment.

Single-use plastics are a huge measure you can take to make an event more sustainable. The impact of single-use plastics on the environment cannot be understated.

If you use disposable plastic products at your events then there should be suitable recycling facilities available.

Or you can go a step further and eliminate plastic altogether. Thanks to the innovative technology we have sustainable options including wooden cutlery, paper plates and cardboard cups. 

You could also encourage attendees to bring their own refillable cups to cut down waste even further.

Doing this could save money also which is a big incentive for people to get involved. 

Promote Digital Communication

There really doesn’t need to be such a heavy reliance on printed-out marketing and promotional materials these days. 

While there is a place for them, the fact that we can run online campaigns really eliminates the need to have paper tickets.

Thanks to our phones we have access to apps that allow us to digitally store entry tickets safely and securely.

Not having to physically print out your ticket saves money and is hugely beneficial for the environment.

Tickets aren’t the only piece of the sustainable puzzle.

The event itself will be littered with marketing and digital communication signage. It’s a vital component needed to really make a successful event.

Traditionally you would have had to print out many posters and flyers which consist of toxic ink and a lot of paper. Paper which involved cutting down large amounts of trees.

Now there is digital signage that reduces environmental costs and makes your event more economical.

A crowd at an event that is sustainable

Source Local Produce

Sourcing local produce to serve at events is an excellent way to promote sustainability. If produce is locally sourced it doesn’t have to travel far, therefore limiting carbon emissions from transport.

As well as helping keep emissions down you’ll also boost the local economy instead of buying from big corporations.

Doing this can help those businesses thrive and remain sustainable. 

A great advantage to sourcing locally when it comes to food is its freshness.

Local produce is often fresher and more seasonal which can enhance the quality of its taste. 

Leaving a lasting impression on attendees who consume it.

If you also have leftover food don’t throw it out. 

You should partner up with a third party organisation to come and collect your food which can be used to donate the food to those who need it. 

Work with Local Suppliers

By working with local suppliers, you can help support and sustain the local economy and infrastructure. This is a great way to give back to the communities that help host your live events.

But more than supporting local communities, working with local suppliers can benefit the environment.

That is because using local suppliers usually leads to less transport or air miles to have supplies delivered to the event location.

When it comes to hosting sustainable events, local suppliers are a great chance to reduce carbon emissions and support local communities. 

Water Conservation

Fresh drinking water is one of the most precious resources that we have on earth which is why it’s important to use it wisely and not waste it needlessly.

 Here are some strategies to achieve sustainable water use for your event:

  • Reduce Water Waste – Minimise water wastage through leak detection, repair, and regular maintenance of water systems. Fixing leaks in plumbing and irrigation systems can save significant amounts of water.
  • Install Water-Efficient Fixtures – Use water-saving fixtures and appliances like low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads. 
  • Collect Rainwater – Implement rainwater harvesting systems to collect and store rainwater for non-potable uses like irrigation, flushing toilets, and cleaning.
  • Reuse Greywater – Treat and reuse greywater (wastewater from sinks, showers, and laundry) for non-potable purposes, reducing the demand on freshwater sources.
  • Educate and Raise Awareness – Encourage attendees to reduce water usage by providing information about water-saving practices
  • Monitor Water Consumption –  Install water meters to monitor water use and identify patterns of excessive consumption. Regularly review and analyse water usage data to make informed decisions about reducing waste.

Power your Event in a Greener Way

Your event needs power to keep the lights on and to run the day-to-day activities involved in operating an event.

This power needs to come from somewhere, usually, it is from the national grid. Why not look at other alternatives that involve using renewable energy sources to run your event? 

Some renewable energy sources include:

  1. Solar energy – This can be a hugely popular choice for events as it produces zero noise pollution and is 100% emissions-free. The downside to solar is that the weather can play a huge role in its reliability. While it can still produce energy on cloudy days, this energy can be less than when there are clear skies. This is where solar energy can be complemented with battery power to boost its maximum potential.  
  1. Battery storage – Batteries store energy which is then released over a period of time when being used. Similar to solar, batteries don’t contribute to noise pollution. Some events could power their batteries during the day using solar and use the energy at night. Meaning there is a sustainable energy cycle, resulting in low energy costs.
  1. Hybrid and electric generators –  If generators are necessary, consider using hybrid or electric generators, which produce fewer emissions and are more fuel-efficient than traditional diesel generators.

Sustainable Promotional Merchandise

Avoid promotional items that may end up as waste. If you offer merchandise, choose high-quality, sustainable products.

Promotional merchandise can be a great marketing tactic to boost the brand awareness of your event.

These products come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials.

Thankfully there are many greener and more sustainable options.

Use products that are made from natural materials, such as:

  • Cotton.
  • Bamboo.
  • Silk.
  • Wood.

These are a better alternative than plastic and still have long-lasting quality.

You can also use recycled material as a way to show customers that you are committing to making your event more sustainable.

Not only is this a positive for the environment but your event brand can benefit from a commercial perspective.

Statistics from a sustainability study show that 78% of participants want to buy from environmentally friendly companies. 

Host Hybrid Events

Hybrid events, which combine in-person and virtual components, have the potential to be more sustainable than traditional, fully in-person events

One of the most significant contributors to the environmental impact of events is attendee travel. 

Hybrid events allow some participants to attend virtually, reducing the need for long-distance travel and associated carbon emissions.

By using digital platforms for presentations, materials, and communication, hybrid events can significantly reduce the consumption of resources like paper, water, and energy, which are common in traditional events.

With less physical presence, hybrid events often generate less waste, as there are fewer physical materials, such as printed programs and promotional items, to be disposed of.

When executed successfully, hybrid events have the potential to be a greener and more sustainable option compared to traditional in-person events.

Post-Event Evaluation

Once your event is finished you can still make changes and improvements that will help long-term sustainability.

Measure and report on the environmental impact of your event to track progress and set goals for improvement in future events.

Getting into a habit of doing this after every event will mean that as the years go on, your event will become even more sustainable.

Thus promoting how well a sustainable event can run and inspiring other attendees and events to follow suit. 

What are the Principles of Event Sustainability?

When it comes to event sustainability there are four guiding principles that must be taken into account. These four principles cover all 17 of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals

The four principles of event sustainability are:

  1. Event organisers and suppliers share responsibility for implementing and communicating sustainable practices to their stakeholders.
  1. Basic environmental practices include:
    • Conservation of resources, including water, energy and natural resources.
    • Waste management.
    • Carbon emissions reduction and management.
    • Supply chain management and responsible purchasing.
    • Biodiversity preservation.
  1. Basic social considerations include:
    • Universal human rights.
    • Community impacts.
    • Labour practices.
    • Respect for culture.
    • Safety and security.
    • Health and well-being.
  1. Sustainable events support thriving economic practices through:
    • Collaboration and partnership.
    • Local support, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
    • Stakeholder participation.
    • Equitable economic impact.
    • Transparency.
    • Responsible governance.
A sustainable music concert

Examples of Sustainable Events

Here are examples of some UK based events and their sustainability initiatives:

ASM Global

Announced last year,  ASM Global’s entire portfolio of UK operated venues are to undergo certification via A Greener Arena, as part of a long-term strategy and pledge towards greener operations and driving forward a more sustainable future for the live events industry. 

OVO Arena Wembley was the first to complete this, with other venues to follow very soon. 

Kendal Calling

Kendal Calling has led the way for years now, and this year launched Flappy Tent environmental awareness game. 

Its industry-leading Leave Nothing But Memories campaign saw 98% of tents taken home in 2022.


Boardmasters launched Leave Only Footprints this year, calling on attendees, staff and everyone involved with the festival to do their bit. 

This year the festival also enlisted the help of betternotstop, a B Corp Certified sustainable impact and audience behaviour change agency. 

Sustainable PR Strategies for Eco Events

We hope you got some value from learning about how you can make your event more sustainable.

With the demand for live events bigger than ever before we think it’s important to share sustainability practices.

Following the tips shared in this post should allow you to host a more eco-friendly event as well as contribute positively to sustainable event management.

At Gala PR we have helped a mix of event brands, including sustainable ones, execute PR strategies that give them the coverage and visibility needed to make them successful. 

Our years of industry experience as well as knowing how to develop and distribute effective PR strategies have allowed us to work with some of the biggest event brands in the UK.

If you run an event and want event PR strategies that work, then please contact us.