top of page

Sustainable Event Planning

If it's already a struggle to organize an event with everything it includes — food, beverages, managing allergies, selecting the perfect venue accessible to all participants, lighting, and decorations — imagine also trying to make this event 100% sustainable.

In April 2023, the United Nations published their guidelines for Sustainable Events. The Guide consists of integral text providing general information on sustainability, key principles, and criteria for sustainable event planning and organization, along with practical examples and tips. In this guideline, a sustainable or green event is defined as "one designed, organized, and implemented in a way that minimizes potential negative impacts and leaves a beneficial legacy for the host community and all involved".

A brick tunnel leading to a garden

What impacts should be minimized? The main two challenges in today's large events are waste management and reducing carbon emissions. Additionally, at a minor level, we could mention the conservation of resources, including water, energy, and natural resources; supply chain management and responsible purchasing; and biodiversity preservation.

Of course, this takes a lot of work, but Swiss event agencies born sustainable are accustomed to working in this way and already have all the steps in their to-do list, with procedures automated. The main point to keep in mind is proper timing for requests. For an event to succeed sustainably, organizers must plan well in advance, consider various issues and challenges, and engage in timely and informed communication with all stakeholders.

How to create a green event?

Select a Green Event Venue

Ein Veranstaltungsraum mit großen Fenstern und Blick auf einen Garten.

The easiest way to select a venue is to see if they have a sustainability certification. We can name a few of the most common certificates in Switzerland: IACC Green Star certification, LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, and the BOMA BEST Building Environmental Standards. Also, it's super important to keep in mind that the venue should be centrally located and easily accessible by public transport or alternative transportation. Sustainable event organizers encourage participants to use electric or hybrid cars, bicycles, walk, or use public transport. Why insist so much on this? Travel is the main source of emissions generated during an event. Here's a Betreat tip: when looking for a hotel venue, the "Green Key" certificate is also a go-to.

Food management is more important than you think.

a glass with water and lemon

When thinking about throwing away fruit or vegetables, some might consider it a way of returning nutrients to the soil. But we must be really careful because not all vegetables have the same nutrients, not to mention non-natural foods that have the opposite effect. The United Nations guidelines explain, "Once sent to landfills, bio-waste releases greenhouse gases such as methane, directly contributing to global warming. Besides, all the energy used to produce such food is also wasted." Here, we are not suggesting significantly reducing food at an event, which we all know is one of the most important aspects. But we can find some tips to plan event food resourcefully. Our first tip would be to offer small portions as finger foods, a good way to reduce leftovers. Betreat's main strategy would be to look for local producer catering. With this idea, you support local producers and get less chemically treated food, plus the food doesn't travel as much by train and car. For participants' well-being, opt for plated menus rather than buffets; this promotes health and hygiene. Meat production causes land degradation, water consumption, and deforestation for pasture. The last aspect to consider is donating leftovers. You may not know of any local food bank or shelter near you, but when you start asking around, there is always one nearby that could use some help.

Event Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Start thinking about every object at an event that can cause a significant amount of waste; the list could be endless.

In a large or small event, the design thinking should be the same. When planning an event, organizers can make smart choices to decrease waste.

In addition to reducing single-use items, event organizers can adopt a 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' approach to minimize waste. By scrutinizing every aspect of event planning, from decorations to promotional materials, organizers can identify opportunities for sustainability. Whether it's opting for digital communication over printouts, using reusable signage instead of disposable banners, or sourcing eco-friendly merchandise, every decision counts. Encouraging attendees to bring their own reusable items, such as water bottles and bags, further reinforces the sustainability message and reduces reliance on disposable products. By embracing these practices, events can significantly decrease their environmental impact while promoting a culture of sustainability.

As you've been wondering, we all know that a virtual or hybrid event is the best way to

a decorated table for dining, on a dock overlooking a lake

create a sustainable event, but Betreat also emphasizes individual well-being, and we assure you there's no substitute for personal connections. Offering participants the possibility of a hybrid event in exhibitions and conferences nowadays is a must. That's why we created the Betreat Creative Events App, which you can find on the Apple and Android app stores, where you can find live sessions and dive into chats, games, and surveys.

When you finish planning the event and you are delving into all the communication, let the attendees know they are attending an eco-friendly event; this increases motivation and also educates the participants. You can share your initiatives and add some educational information about how they can include sustainable practices in their daily lives.

Always keep in mind that every action you take is an improvement over climate change. The United Nations highlights, "Climate change is directly contributing to humanitarian emergencies from heatwaves, wildfires, floods, tropical storms, and hurricanes, and they are increasing in scale, frequency, and intensity. Research shows that 3.6 billion people already live in areas highly susceptible to climate change.


bottom of page