Four years ago, you may have seen a giant peanut driving down the road. If you followed the peanut, you would have discovered the Planters NUTmobile, a refurbished Isuzu Series NPR biodiesel truck that carried Mr. Peanut from place to place in the greenest marketing effort Planters could muster.

The truck ran on a blend of reused oils, sported solar panels that conformed to the shape of the vehicle, and had wind turbines hidden among the peanut-y contours. Much of the reconstruction was done with recycled materials, and all the paint was eco-friendly.

This tour highlighted Planters, but it also reminded consumers that the brand cares about the environment. This was a smart move -- especially when you consider that 72% of consumers would recommend a brand that supports a good cause and 73% would switch to that brand.

When consumers know they’re contributing to a more sustainable ecosystem, it creates a stronger bond between them and the brand. As global citizens, we all have a personal and professional duty to exercise corporate responsibility and implement sustainable practices into our everyday lives. But how do we implement these practices for live marketing events?

One-off experiential marketing events can produce a lot of waste if mindful choices aren’t made during the planning process. Reducing your event’s impact on the environment and adopting a green approach is possible and is expected more and more by eco-friendly attendees. Here are 10 tips on how to reduce your next event’s global footprint. 

1) Go digital.

Rather than focusing on paper marketing materials, go digital. Event websites, social media, email marketing, mobile apps, and digital signage can do all the heavy lifting. Technology can eliminate almost all paper materials and provide alternate access to valuable content online.

2) Location, location, location!

Consider LEED-certified buildings to host your next event, or choose venues with reputable, sustainable practices already in place.

3) Provide incentives to use public transportation.

Providing a bus to get attendees from several stops to the event and back will diminish the carbon footprint of individual car rides and create a feeling of community before and after the event. If this is impossible, try to use a venue close to public transportation stops or highways, or consider on-site bike parking for city commuters.

4) Consider LED lighting.

LED lighting is a no-brainer for events. It’s cheaper than other options and provides even more lighting power and flexibility.

5) Use green caterers and practices.

Use catering providers that primarily use local and sustainable ingredients as well as recyclable serving utensils and dishes. This ensures that the food comes from a green-focused source and that the plating it’s served on can be reused or repurposed.

6) Have a food recovery plan.

Both nonperishable and perishable foods are constantly being thrown away after events. By having a food recovery vendor in place, you will not only reduce unnecessary waste products, but also give back to those in need. Do your research in advance. Make arrangements with local food banks and organizations, or work directly with your venue, as it may have partners in place.

7) Nix the water bottles.

Boycotting disposable water bottles is tough because everyone needs water. Consider handing out reusable water bottles instead and placing water dispensers around the venue for guests to help themselves. If water bottles are non-negotiable, use small bottles made from recycled materials, and point everyone to the recycling bins.

8) Consider reuse.

When designing your event, consider assets that can be used for marketing initiatives outside of your live event.

9) Be mindful when choosing materials.

When you must print, commit to using only recycled or 100 percent recyclable paper or substrates. In addition, try to source these elements locally through print shops to reduce shipping costs.

10) Make post-event plans for everything.

Event decor such as carpets, furniture, and other decorations are purchased, used once, and thrown away or locked in storage for eternity. Instead, work with your clients to pick a charity to donate these items to. Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army are two options, but you can also contact local churches, schools, and shelters directly.

With consumers’ growing concerns about sustainability, brands that fail to adjust their marketing efforts will face harsher scrutiny than ever before. However, with a little effort and creativity, you can put on an event that’s both memorable and eco-friendly. Your clients, their customers, and the future will thank you.


Originally published Mar 9, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017


Brand Management