Creating sustainable events may feel like an insurmountable task with confusing and complex advice to wade through, decipher and put into practice. But not all the advice available is accessible, practical to follow or easy to implement.
We like to make things easy for our clients, so for this article, we are focusing on just one area; the emotive and vitally important topic of food. Your menu choices have a huge impact on the sustainability of your event. In many cases, it is the food of the event that is both the biggest financial outlay and the biggest source of potential negative environmental impact. It also remains the most commented on aspect of the event; 45% of all event feedback is now based on food and beverage.*
The good news is that as charity meeting and event professionals, you have the power and the responsibility of feeding hundreds of people every time you have an event. This means that your choices really do matter; you are not only helping to reduce the carbon footprint of your event, but you may also be introducing your delegates to new ways of thinking and eating. You also have the opportunity to create a legacy and make a lasting impact on the choices that your delegates could make for years to come.
Your delegates are keen for this food to be sustainable; 72% of delegates surveyed* are willing to pay more for a demonstrably more sustainable menu. This means that it is important for you to make sure that they are aware of your focus and that your actions could have a big impact on your delegate numbers and the profile of your fundraising event.
Your first step should be to ask your caterer (or your venue’s in-house catering team) for their sustainability policy. What do they already do? How clued up are they and how easy is it for them to create a sustainable plate? How do they tackle food waste? Do they have a food waste policy and can they share their current level of food waste with you and tell you about their targets and what they are actively doing to meet those targets?
How are they being innovative? Coffee and meetings go hand in hand, but coffee is a pretty horrible thing to throw away due to the high level of methane it produces if it’s not disposed of properly. So how does your venue dispose of their coffee grinds? Coffee is very good for the soil, so we use ours to grow mushrooms, and we also give out bags of grinds to our delegates and visitors who may like to use it on their vegetable plots and allotments.
Green eating is on the rise, but we think that the increase in ‘plant-based’ eating should be seen as separate from historic vegan and vegetarian requirements, and as a statement on the environment and sustainability. We are adopting a ‘plant-forward’ approach across all of our venues. Plant-forward or plant-based diets focus on foods that come primarily from plants. This means that a plant-forward diet has lots of the good stuff we associate with a plant-based diet such as whole grains, legumes, seeds, veggies, nuts and fruits, but meat and dairy aren’t off the table completely (see more about plant-based options here). Giving your delegates a plant-forward menu means that you are not omitting the meat, but that you are giving them healthier and more sustainable options to choose from.
The green plate obviously has to be sustainable, but it also has to be tasty and nutritionally balanced and satisfying. Sacrificing any of these qualities for sustainable, but bland options would be a false economy so ensure the options are interesting and that flavour, textures and appearance haven’t been side-lined.
Focusing on the food for your event is a simple and easy way to bring sustainability into your events, one step at a time. Our Meetings for Change Day Delegate Rate and 24-Hour Delegate Rate are perfect for the busy organiser who wants to quickly and efficiently find a more sustainable way to hold meetings. You can find out more by contacting our sales team on: email@example.com
*Big Food Survey 2021, Lime Venue Portfolio