How to plan a more sustainable event, right now.

Biodegradable badges, eco-friendly venues, sustainability-minded vendors – these are just a few of the ways events can directly help the environment!

Sustainability can be a bit of a buzzword. Of course, you want your event to be sustainable. But what does that really mean? How can your event actually make the world a little greener? The answer is easy, you just want to do what you can to create less waste and use less power. Any amount counts. Here are a few of our favorite ways to plan sustainable and eco-friendly events.

Eco-friendly event venue.

Plan your event at an eco-friendly venue.

Planning your event at an eco-friendly venue is a great way to automatically reduce your event’s total energy consumption and waste. 

Start by checking out LEED certified buildings, such as The Monterey Conference Center and McCormick Place in Chicago. To achieve LEED certifications, venues must prove that all of their event spaces will reduce contributions to global climate change, promote sustainable material usage, protect and preserve water resources, enhance biodiversity, and much more. 

But even if a venue is not LEED certified, the most important thing is that the space is committed to being more eco-friendly. Maybe they’ve just updated to a super-efficient HVAC, added solar panels, or are only using biodegradable products. Any little bit helps!  

The location of your venue can also have an impact on its energy consumption. For example: limiting plane travel for a majority of attendees, if possible, will greatly reduce your event’s carbon footprint. Also, ensuring your event is near public transit options can create less dependence on cars in the local community.

ProTip: Venues that are committed to sustainability will also know tons of sustainability-minded vendors that can help make your event as eco-friendly as possible.

onsite badge printing by Expo.

Use paper badges and onsite badge printing. 

Using paper or biodegradable badges (over plastic) will cut back significantly on waste. Also, if you combine paper badges with onsite badge printing you’ll save both money and energy on shipping.  

All of your awesome event badges are going in the trash after the event. OK, some attendees will keep theirs for a scrapbook, but for the most part, event badges are a single-use item. Biodegradable material ensures that your event badges do not end up in a landfill, drifting out to sea, or any place where they can impact the environment. 

Printing badges onsite can make your event even more eco-friendly. By not shipping badges, you’ll drastically reduce your carbon footprint, as well as save money and paper on shipping supplies. Here’s how it works: Attendees arrive at the venue, find their name on a tablet at one of the check-in kiosks, print their badge, and they are good to go. Easy and efficient. 

Expo is actually a full-service badge printing platform – from design to print. For more about onsite badge printing at your next event, reach out to We’d love to chat! 

Group of biodegradable coffee cups.

Collaborate with sustainability focused vendors. 

Vendors that make sustainability a part of their business model will greatly reduce your event’s waste and impact on the local environment. 

Food is maybe one of our favorite parts of events, but event food often leads to a lot of waste. All those coffee cups and to-go boxes really add up! Try looking for vendors that use biodegradable serving containers, utensils, straws, etc. Anything that gets thrown away – make it recyclable or biodegradable. 

To lower your event’s carbon footprint, collaborate with vendors that serve locally grown, farm-fresh, or sustainably grown food. The less the food has to travel, the less energy your event is ultimately using. Fresh, local foods tend to taste amazing, so it’s a win-win in our book! 

Also of note, large sound systems, endless panels of TVs, or big lighting installations will require a fair amount of power. Look for AV vendors that use Energy Star-rated TVs and receivers, efficient amplifiers, and laser or LED-based lighting over traditional light bulbs. 

woman talking about reusing and recycling.

Invite sustainability-minded exhibitors and speakers.

Inviting exhibitors that work in the sustainability field will both spark conversation at your event and help promote a greener future for your industry. 

Almost every industry on the planet is working to reduce its impact on the environment. Try to use your event to raise awareness of the people and businesses that are at the forefront of this push. Create sessions and conversations specifically headed-up by these exhibitors so that attendees can get involved in the effort. Make sustainability a visible part of the event. 

We also recommend looking for speakers that have experience talking to attendees about sustainability issues. The right speaker can inspire attendees and businesses to take action in the here and now, even if it’s just recycling more or reducing energy use. 

collection of reusable water bottles.

Give people swag that they will keep!

Seek out high-quality swag that’s functional, and fun! Your attendees will want to show off it when they get home. 

Pens, keychains, cheap Bluetooth speakers – these are all the first to hit the waste bin. Instead, try to find one, high-quality item to anchor your swag bag. Some examples are: an eco-friendly water bottle from HydroFlask, a JBL travel speaker, or a compressible blanket from Rumpl. Think functional, fun, and with lasting value that attendees can show off. 

Sustainability is a team effort! 

The most important part of sustainability is that it takes everyone to chip in to make it happen. 

Planning your event at an eco-friendly venue is one of the best ways to automatically make your event more sustainable. Working with eco-friendly vendors and printing sustainable badges onsite will lower both event waste and energy use. And finding sustainability-minded speakers will inspire attendees to take action here and now. As cliche as it sounds, sustainable events, just like taking care of the environment, is a team effort!

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