A net zero guide to sustainable events

Hosting an event, whether it's a wedding, conference, or a celebration, is a joyful occasion that can also have a significant environmental impact.

The average UK festival creates roughly 8,000 wheelie bins worth of rubbish, and British weddings create around 4,910 tonnes of plastic waste each year - the same weight as 47 blue whales.

In an era where sustainability is increasingly crucial, planning a sustainable event is not just a trend but a responsibility. 

This guide is designed to help you to incorporate more eco-friendly elements into your next event, with helpful tips to help you to create less waste and cut your carbon emissions, without missing out on any of the fun. 

Eco-friendly venues

Choosing a venue that aligns with sustainable practices is a great place to start when it comes to planning a more eco-friendly event. Opt for spaces that are energy-efficient, use renewable energy sources, and have waste reduction initiatives in place. A great venue may also be able to recommend sustianable suppliers, to make every element of your day that bit greener.

As this article on sustainable wedding planning explains, choosing a venue with green certifications is a really impactful way to make your event more eco-friendly. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential venue questions like whether they have a good recycling policy, if they use energy-efficient appliances and where they get their power from. This also helps to show venues that people care about their environmental impact, and encourages them to do more to lower their carbon emissions.

If feasible, select a venue which is easily accessible by public transport - or if guests are coming from overseas, consider how they could join virtually to reduce their carbon footprint and cut their travel time.

Sustainable invitations

When it comes to inviting your guests, digital invitations are an excellent way to reduce paper waste.

If physical invitations are preferred, consider using recycled paper or materials that are easily recyclable - or opt for seed paper so that guests can plant your invitation to sprout their own piece of nature.

Encouraging your guests to RSVP online minimises the use of paper and streamlines the planning process. Creating a website with information about your event can reduce the number of emails back and forth (and eases your workload!). 

You can also use invitations to give guests tips to help them play their own part in your eco-friendly event; encourage guests to use low-carbon transportation options such as public transport, car sharing or cycling, If gifts are expected, then suggesting some more sustainable options like shopping pre-loved, planning an activity together or donating to a climate charity can help to reduce the waste generated from unwanted gifts.

Greener decor

Planning your decorations is a great opportunity to get creative, as well as reducing the environmental impact of your event.

Embrace the principles of the circular economy by opting for reusable or upcycled decorations - collecting glass jars for centrepieces, growing your own flowers or gathering local branches all make for stunning nature-friendly decor. Using natural decorations like potted plants instead of high air-mile flowers means that your decor can be repurposed after the event, and reduces how much waste you’re sending to landfill.

When you need to invest in bigger pieces, consider renting or buying second hand through platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Vinted to reduce the demand for new materials.

When it comes to decorations which damage the environment, the worst offenders include balloons and confetti, as they don’t break down in landfill and can be a serious choking hazard for wildlife - swap plastic balloons for paper garlands or handmade bunting, and dried petals make the most beautiful (and wildlife-friendly) confetti.

Catering choices

Food and beverage choices can significantly impact the environmental footprint of an event. Work with caterers who source locally-grown organic ingredients and use sustainable practices in their food preparation is a great way to support smaller businesses and protect our natural environment.

Why not embrace the opportunity to opt for lower-carbon dishes like plant-based dishes and seasonal ingredients. Choosing tableware and cutlery which is reusable, recyclable or biodegradable is a great alternative to single-use plastic, and tends to be more enjoyable to dine with too. Donating excess food to local charities is a fantastic way to make the most of any leftovers, or let guests take any leftovers home with them, and any food scraps can be turned into compost.

Waste less

Once the fun is over, planning how you’ll deal with your waste can help you to re-think some of the more wasteful elements of your event, and come up with a few clever ways to be more eco-friendly.

Providing clearly-labelled recycling and compost bins is a great way to reduce your landfill impact (and save you a clean up job!). Reducing your energy use with solar-powered lighting and beeswax candles cuts your carbon footprint, lowers your electricity bill and adds a stunning atmosphere to your event. 

Acknowledge the carbon footprint of your event and invest in carbon offset programs to balance out the emissions. This can include supporting renewable energy projects, reforestation initiatives or other sustainable practices. 


Planning a sustainable event involves a holistic approach that considers environmental impacts at every stage. By incorporating these strategies, you can reduce waste, minimise carbon emissions and contribute to a more sustainable future.