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Going Green With Your Event

Going Green With Your Event

Four FreemanXP event experts weigh in with Earth Day tips and observations

At Freeman and FreemanXP, we are deeply committed to finding and utilizing green event solutions and ensuring that we are using sustainable practices whenever possible. In fact, Freeman was part of the team that helped develop the standards released a few years ago by the Convention Industry Council and Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) to provide a framework for sustainable meetings and events. 

In honor of Earth Day, we gathered four FreemanXP experts to weigh in with ideas and observations on how to create a greener event experience, plus a bonus link to learn more from Freeman's VP of Sustainability.

Shannon Gilcrease, Strategy Director
I’ve had an opportunity to check out a variety of events lately, and personally, I would love to see things more like I saw at the Austin City Limits Festival. No plastic bottle/containers/bags were allowed on site, only water in cartons and water refill stations for you to bring your own steel water bottles to refill throughout the event. Bags made from recycled materials were used and the festival partnered with companies like Eco Promotions for recycled items to hand out.

Many festivals have adopted a  “Leave No Trace” policy. For example, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, a music festival hosted by Planet Bluegrass, offsets its carbon output by partnering with Renewable Choice Energy. Planet Bluegrass takes into account everything from electricity used by hotels that house festival-goers to artist travel. They purchase renewable energy credits to offset these carbon contributors, investing in wind energy and other renewable energy providers.

Charlie Davis, Experience Design Manager
I love the “Leave No Trace” policy. Creating green, sustainable events is something that I personally am deeply interested in and conscious of when designing. Leave No Trace is a great “holy grail” concept to work towards.

There are some ways that we can recycle regularly as part of Freeman. For example, we have structural rental systems: MIS, MIS 2, Smart Panel, etc. These structures are used and re-used throughout the thousands of shows we do every year – but can be customized to look fresh and brand new for each program.

There is also a significant recycling effort put forth for the carpet used on show floors and one of the ways we work to decrease the footprint of our events.

Kelly Coppola, Event Director
Shannon and Charlie provided some great ideas – but what about those that are looking for something more granular, or that are quick and easy to implement?

These ideas are tried but true and for good reason… they work! Use water stations instead of providing bottled water. Include team building or give back opportunities into all meetings. This not only supports the local area where you are doing business and makes a positive impact on the community, but also makes a positive impact on your attendees.

Organizers can reduce the quantity of print materials required onsite by using mobile apps and digital signage – green and technologically advanced! Provide solar powered charging stations to ensure attendees can use their apps. If you must print, be sure to print double sided and be judicious about what really needs to be printed. Use recycled paper if that’s an option.

Most of all, source locally. This includes printing, food, amenities, etc. The less the pieces of your event need to travel to bring your experience to life, the smaller the carbon footprint of your event will be.

Karen Yee, Operations Administrator        
In addition to Kelly’s suggestions, some ideas that are simple ways to green your events include collecting and recycling name badge holders and using all compostable plates, cups, utensils, etc. Be sure to provide dedicated areas for recycling and compost.

If you can partner with hotels and venues who already have green practices in place, it will make the job that much easier. Be mindful when planning your event and have sustainability be part of the conversation up front, not an after thought.

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For more on sustainability in the events industry, read what Jeff Chase, VP of Sustainability for Freeman has to say about how to develop and implement a Sustainable Events Plan


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