The Event Manager’s Guide to Greening Your Gathering

Event management is a vibrant industry that brings people together for a wide range of purposes. However, as event planners strive to create memorable experiences, they must also consider the environmental impacts associated with their activities.

According to Forbes, a three-day 800-person conference has a carbon footprint of 455 tons of CO2. That’s more CO2 emissions than 95 automobiles emit in a year. This highlights the significant environmental impact that large-scale conferences and events can have.

In recent years, growing awareness of these concerns has prompted a shift towards more responsible event management practices.

Fire Suppression at Events

AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) has long been employed as a fire suppressant at various types of events. This includes firefighter training facilities, military exercises, and even large public gatherings. This foam helps in putting out flammable liquid fires, especially ones involving petroleum. However, its use has come under scrutiny due to the presence of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

When AFFF is deployed, these PFAS chemicals can infiltrate the soil and potentially leach into groundwater, posing long-term environmental risks. This has led to growing concerns about the impact of AFFF on ecosystems and water sources. Additionally, direct ingestion of toxic fumes can potentially have serious health consequences for event participants.

According to, these toxic chemicals have been linked to serious health risks, including cancer. TorHoerman Law notes that recent developments have seen a surge in AFFF-related lawsuits. Individuals, including civilian and military firefighters, have filed legal claims against manufacturers like 3M.

The firefighter foam lawsuit alleges that manufacturers were aware of the health hazards associated with AFFF, yet failed to warn the public. As litigation unfolds, it raises important questions about the use of AFFF at events, public safety, and manufacturer accountability.

Measures for Event Managers to Minimize AFFF Use

To minimize the use of AFFF at events, event managers can take several proactive measures, including:

  • Risk Assessment: Event organizers should conduct a risk assessment to determine the likelihood of flammable liquid fires. Identifying potential risks helps focus on preventing fire-related incidents and minimizes the reliance on AFFF.
  • Fire Prevention Measures: Implement fire prevention measures such as safe storage of flammable materials, fire-resistant barriers, and on-site fire safety training for staff. Prevention is often more effective than suppression.
  • Alternative Suppression Methods: Explore alternative fire suppression methods that are less harmful to the environment. This could include using dry powder extinguishers or fire blankets for specific fire risks.
  • Environmental Compliance: If AFFF must be used, event managers should ensure compliance with environmental regulations regarding its storage, use, and disposal. Proper containment and cleanup measures can help prevent environmental contamination.

Sustainable Event Practices

As environmental consciousness rises, event managers are adopting sustainable practices. This includes reducing waste, implementing eco-friendly transportation options, and sourcing locally produced goods. Sustainability not only benefits the environment but also enhances the event’s reputation and appeal to eco-conscious attendees.

Furthermore, embracing sustainable practices can often lead to cost savings for event organizers. This makes it a win-win strategy for both the environment and the bottom line. Incorporating sustainable elements into event branding materials can also help educate attendees about the event’s commitment to responsible practices.

Air Quality Management

Large events can contribute to poor air quality due to factors like traffic congestion and energy consumption. Event planners should consider measures such as promoting public transportation, using clean energy sources, and monitoring air quality.

Additionally, by taking steps to improve air quality, events can create a more enjoyable and comfortable atmosphere for attendees. This enhances their overall experience and ensures they leave with positive memories.

Noise Pollution Control

Excessive noise at events can have negative health effects. According to National Geographic, millions of individuals are affected by noise pollution on a daily basis. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is the most prominent health issue it causes. Loud noise can also lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep disruptions, and stress.

Event managers should implement sound barriers, noise level monitoring, and strategic layout designs to ensure a safer acoustic environment. Moreover, by managing noise pollution, events can create a more favorable environment for social interaction and meaningful engagement among participants.

Food Safety and Dietary Accommodations

Ensuring food safety is crucial to prevent foodborne illnesses among event attendees. Additionally, providing dietary accommodations for diverse preferences and allergies helps promote inclusivity and attendee well-being.

By offering a wide range of food options and labeling allergens, events can cater to the diverse needs of attendees. This creates a more inclusive and enjoyable dining experience for everyone. Including information about food safety measures in event communications can reassure attendees about their well-being.

Emergency Preparedness

Every event should have a comprehensive emergency plan in place to address potential health and safety issues. This includes medical stations, trained personnel, and communication protocols to respond swiftly to emergencies and minimize harm.

Additionally, event organizers should regularly conduct drills and simulations to ensure that all staff and attendees are well-prepared and informed. This further enhances the event’s safety and security. Publicly sharing the event’s emergency procedures can instill confidence in attendees and demonstrate the commitment to their safety.

Waste Management and Recycling

Events generate substantial waste, but responsible waste management practices can reduce environmental impacts. Event organizers should prioritize recycling, composting, and minimizing single-use plastics to decrease the event’s ecological footprint.

Moreover, by actively involving attendees in waste reduction through convenient disposal options, events can foster a sense of environmental responsibility. Publicly showcasing the event’s sustainability achievements and waste reduction efforts can inspire attendees to adopt similar practices in their lives.

Final Thoughts

The world of event management is undergoing a transformation, recognizing the imperative need for sustainability and safety. The environmental consequences of large gatherings cannot be ignored, and event organizers are now taking proactive steps to mitigate their impact.

As seen in the case of AFFF, health and environmental concerns are driving accountability in the industry. Sustainable practices not only benefit the planet but also the event’s reputation and finances.

Furthermore, by prioritizing air quality, noise control, and emergency preparedness, event managers are ensuring the well-being and enjoyment of attendees. Together, these efforts signal a promising shift towards greener, safer, and more responsible gatherings.