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Sustainability Guide to Planning an Event

Sustainability can be defined many ways but the basic ideas and concepts remain the same: balancing protection for the environment, economic factors, and social responsibility, so that together we create and safeguard an improved quality of life for ourselves and future generations.

Event development

The planning phase is the perfect time to think about the sustainability of your event. Tacking on sustainability fixes at the last minute can cause unnecessary problems and, even worse, sustainability can get the blame for bad planning. In other words, getting buy-in from the beginning from everyone involved makes it much easier to fulfill your goal of a sustainable event.

Pledge to plan events sustainably

Invitations/Promotion

  • Consider paperless options where possible (YUConnect, Yfile story, word of mouth... get creative!)
  • Create branded evites with links to an online RSVP making it easy for your guests, looks very professional, can be more accurate and safe than sign up sheets, and are better for the environment!
  • Develop online posters for your event that act as sharable graphics/links/posters/videos for social media buzz

Purchasing

  • Buy local, organic, fair trade where possible, even if it costs a little more
  • Minimize event impact by only buying what's needed
  • Challenge vendors/caterers to provide sustainable options

Energy

  • Always remember to turn everything off after the event is over
  • Consider using energy efficient A/V equipment where it is necessary (LED lighting etc.)
  • Consider event options if a venue or a similar event has a smaller environmental impact
  • Consider energy conservation efforts that you can make as users of a venue

Waste

  • Reuse materials from event to event where possible (for repeat events, create signage without a reference to the date, so it can be used again, or signage with a blank spot that can be written on and erased later)
  • Provide adequate recycling at every event
  • Consider more sustainable long lasting options to one-use-only decorations/supplies/dishes

Transportation

  • Ensure equity by planning a safe, inclusive, and accessible event
  • Adequate shuttle busses / shared transportation for everyone there and back
  • Event planners travel with attendees (which discourages separate vehicles and provides a safer event)

Change

  • Make public your commitment to planning events sustainably before, during and after your events
  • Be as inclusive as possible with pricing of events
  • Consider planning sustainability events, not just events sustainably

Final Tip

Remember, if you aren't sure about the impact of something, need help advocating with a vendor, or have good ideas to share, please contact the Sustainability Coordinator, Andrew Plunkett (email: aplunket@yorku.ca).

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