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Planning Greener Events: 4 Tips for Sustainability

Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword anymore. It has gained such significance within the events industry that event planners, now more than ever, are acknowledging the importance of minimising the adverse environmental effects stemming from their activities. In fact, the Eventbrite 2023 Event Trends report revealed, 83% of Australian respondents claimed they have a sustainability target for their events this year.

As such, if event organisers choose to adopt a greater focus on sustainable practices, you can not only contribute to environmental conservation but also attract environmentally conscious attendees and enhance your event’s reputation.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with where to start your sustainable event journey. The Australian Business Events Association (ABEA) Sustainability Pledge identifies 7 key impact areas during the planning and delivery of exhibitions and events. This framework guides Creative Hire’s own approach in our sustainable practices and management charters with the goal of operating more sustainability in a ‘take-make-waste’ industry. ABEA’s key pillars include; exhibitor waste, attendee waste, food & beverage, staging, signage & promotions​, custom stands, logistics and audio visual equipment. We recommend these pillars are a great way to begin planning greener event outcomes and gives you a simple way to identity everything from suppliers and materials through to promotional ideas and venue selection. Let’s explore some of our top tips on how you can incorporate some practical and sustainable initiatives for your next event.

1. Venue Selection

Choosing a venue with sustainable practices should be your next consideration. Look for venues or spaces with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications which is the globally recognised  green building rating system. Look for venues that opt for  energy-efficient LED lighting in their conference spaces or energy efficient equipment and appliances in their operations. Ask about the venue’s plans for any renewable energy adoption and waste management strategies too as a top consideration when choosing your venue.

For example, the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) recently won the Spice Hot 100 for Best Sustainable Venue in 2023. Back in 2018, the Centre became the world’s first convention centre to receive the prestigious EarthCheck Platinum Certification. GCCEC is focused on numerous energy-efficient protocols, such as having the air conditioning and lighting systems being centrally located and controlled, along with energy efficient LED bulbs to reduce air conditioning costs and sensor activated lighting in all public amenities.

Another Spice 100 winner in the ‘Best Sustainable Venue’ category this year was  ICC Sydney, who have taken proactive measures to champion sustainability on multiple fronts. One noteworthy initiative involves the creation of an environmentally conscious framework, complete with key performance indicators (KPIs) addressing energy, water and waste management. Collaborating closely with their clients, ICC Sydney strives to minimise their collective ecological footprint demonstrated in their partnership with Sydney Water to serve tap water in glass bottles and cups, effectively phasing out individual plastic bottled water. In their culinary services, ICC Sydney have seamlessly integrated an eWater System, ensuring both the safety and hygiene of food preparation during events. These examples and more sustainable initiatives from the venue have contributed to diverting an impressive 75% of waste away from landfills and achieving the remarkable feat of eliminating organic waste from ending up in these sites.

ICC Sydney
GCCEC Gold Coast

2. Eco – Friendly Swag

There’s a tonne of waste (sometimes more) when it comes to conference bags and taking proactive steps to minimise waste in this area could be a great option. We recommend you ditch the landfill waste options and opt for eco-friendly goodies from partners such as Earth Friendly Promos. Suppliers like this offer a variety of items from tote bags, pens and stationary through to notebooks, badges and USB sticks, all made from sustainable and recyclable materials. You could even get super crafty and offer plantable stationary from Seed Paper Australia.

Remember, the best sustainable swag items are made from materials that are biodegradable, sustainable and recyclable. Look for materials like bamboo and cork, organic cotton or  reclaimed properties along with recycled materials such as recycled PET bottles and recycled cotton. Attendees will not only leave your event or exhibition with something useful and eco-friendly, you’ll also be aligning with your brand’s values and the importance of sustainability in your event objectives.

3. Green Partnerships

Why not partner with eco-friendly vendors and collaborators who are equally dedicated to upholding sustainability principles? This can foster a community of professionals who share your values and amplify the favourable influence of your event. At Creative Hire, we request all engaged suppliers provide documentation outlining their Environmental Policy or High Conservation Value (HCV) declarations before commencing any work with our team and clients. Creative Hire consciously collaborates with individuals and suppliers who resonate with our sustainability philosophy, ensuring that it remains a core focus when you choose to work together with us too. For more ideas on partnerships and our approach, check out our latest insight article on Going Green: The importance of sustainability in the events and exhibitions industry.

Interflow 2022
Interflow 2023

4. Get Tech-Savvy

Consider how to cut down on paper waste during your event too by incorporating digital as much as possible. Try out digital presentations with options for live notetaking or use event apps for all your conference programming. The old faithful PowerPoint is a great go to, but other programs such as Prezi, Canva, Vyond and Zoho Show are great tools that help event organisers connect and collaborate more meaningfully with their audiences. These programs use motion, zoom and spatial relationships to bring your ideas to life and make your presentations more engaging for delegates.

By incorporating digital signage into your event, this removes the need for any re-printing due last minute changes or additions. This can sometimes be out of the budget so why not look for printed signage with recyclable principles to ensure everything doesn’t end up in landfill at the conclusion of your event.

You could also consider streamlining your delegate arrival experience with the introduction of e-tickets. Nearly 90% of event organisers have embraced e-tickets, making it unquestionably one of the simplest methods to significantly reduce the volume of paper consumption and waste generated at the conclusion of your event.


Remember, sustainable event planning is all about making mindful choices that collectively lead to a greener future. By implementing these tips, you’ll not only reduce your event’s environmental impact but also create an experience that resonates with attendees who care about the planet. At Creative Hire, we’re here to help you and your exhibitors achieve greener outcomes for events and tradeshows. Get in touch today and let’s join hands in planning events that leave lasting memories with a minimal footprint.

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