Paperless Events: Host Sustainable Events in 2024

April 25, 2023

Amarnath M

I recently was at a 2-day conference for about 500 people where the agenda was distributed on thick A4 sheets. The agenda looked stunning, and as I walked by the entire wall caught my eye of the same agenda in one giant poster.

This made me curious, and I decided to observe what people were doing with their printed agendas.

The keynote was off to a great start followed by a riveting panel discussion. But as people walked out for their coffee, every empty seat had the printed agenda left behind.

As lunch got over, most attendees started asking each other about the next session while standing under the giant poster displayed right behind them. Almost no-one carried the agenda, as the first day ended and I could see the event staff thrash all the agenda in preparation for the next day.

The following day, I sneaked into the back to see the paper paper waste generated at the venue. To see it was overflowing might be an understatement. The bin was overflowing with brochures, paper flyers, name badges, coupon codes, and, of course, the printed agenda.

Entering 2024, we must be infuriated by the callousness of our actions as humans. If this experience doesn’t jolt you, here is a video and some shocking facts about paper usage in the world.

Shocking Facts About Paper Usage Statistics

After chemical (37%), petroleum and coal (22%), paper production is the third-most intensive industry


Pulp and paper industry releases over 100 million kilograms (3rd most) of toxic pollution every year


1 sheet of paper requires 2 to 13 liters of water (depending on the mill)


It takes 1.16 Tress to produce 10,000 A4 sheets of paper


On average, two trees produces enough oxygen for a family of four in one year


1/3rd of municipal waste is paper. While 26% of landfills are filled with paper that is thrashed


Ways To Reduce Paper Usage At Your Event


1. Educate On What Is A Paperless Event

To effectively transition to a paperless event, start by articulating the reasons why it’s important. This will help uncover deeper messages that can better persuade leadership and attendees

Send out emails that highlight the alarming statistics on paper usage and production. Use striking visuals and examples to demonstrate the impact of paper waste on the environment and emphasize the benefits of going paperless.

Clearly list out the digital alternatives that can be used in place of paper materials. These may include mobile event apps, digital invitations, electronic signage, and online registration forms. Demonstrate how these digital tools can provide a more efficient and sustainable approach to make it a green event.

Don’t forgot to provide assistance and training for those who may need assistance in using these tools.


2. Paperless Invitations & Online RSVP

If you’re not already doing this, listen up! You can save the environment, time, and money by using paperless invitations and online RSVPs for your events.

While paper invitations can certainly add a special touch to an event by allowing for unique textures, colors, and designs, it’s important to weigh the potential negative impacts on sustainability.

Instead send your guests a digital invite via email, SMS, WhatsApp, or LinkedIn. There are tons of platforms out there that let you create beautiful custom invitations that do more than just invite people. You can collect information like food allergies, preferences, and special needs all in one place.

And here’s a pro tip: Look for an online RSVP platform that has other features like reminder emails, on-site check-in, and even a mobile app. This way, you can keep all your attendee interactions in one place and make your life a whole lot easier.


3. Go Paperless In Your Back Office And Event Planning

I’ve noticed that most advice on paperless events forgets to mention the use of paper in the lead-up to the event and daily operations.

Let’s face it, brainstorming, budgeting, drafts, presentations, and creative thinking all require a little paper. And sometimes its best to use paper but there still lies huge opportunities to digitize back-office operations and go paperless.

For example, go digital with your finances – Ask your vendors for digital invoices instead of stamped ones inside an envelope. It’s the 21st century after all! Encourage the use of digital signatures that can be easily verified, and only print what is absolutely necessary.

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