Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Home Colorado CO Planning Carbon Management 101

Carbon Management 101

Reducing the carbon footprint of your event is within reach by implementing a few simple strategies

By Lindsay Arell

Carbon management is a complex field of interlocking strategies that involves evaluating how different aspects of event production add up to a carbon footprint. By increasing literacy in all areas of sustainability, planners can make more responsible decisions for events.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the vast scope of what it takes to reach net zero carbon, start by looking at various areas of an event to see where your organization can make more responsible decisions. To help make things easier, the following are four areas of event production broken down to show how each decision contributes to the greater whole.

Plant-based food
Plant-based food is a sustainable choice for event fare || Photo by pressmaster, courtesy of Adobe

Food Considerations

When thinking about catering for an event, there are many environmental impacts that can be reduced. Consider reducing the amount of product that requires refrigeration, and ensure equipment used for cooling is efficient and working its best. Deforestation is a major factor in the carbon footprint of food, especially for animal products. Forests, jungles, and marine habitats like mangrove wetlands are cleared to create the pastures and farms where livestock roam—consider switching over to a plant-based menu to help mitigate this impact. In addition, partnering with local donation organizations like Denver’s We Don’t Waste can ensure that any leftovers are put to good use.

Waste Management

Municipal solid waste (garbage) being dumped into landfills is the highest carbon-emitting form of disposal by a large margin. Landfills release methane as the garbage decomposes, which traps more heat from the sun than carbon dioxide, increasing global warming. For comparison, recycling has only about 4.5% of the impact of putting items in the landfill, and compost produces about half as much carbon impact as recycling. Having both recycling and compost containers available near the regular garbage bins is an easy way to ensure that minimal waste is sent to the landfill while optimizing opportunities for composting and recycling. The easier it is for attendees to sort their waste, the more likely they are to do it.

Signage Procurement

If signage is dated or specially branded, opt for digital instead of printed to avoid adding to the event’s carbon footprint through waste disposal after just one use. For printed signage, Falconboard is the best bet because it’s not manufactured with petroleum-based products like vinyl and is easily recyclable. Chemicals, emissions from manufacturing, and greenhouse gases dispersed in landfills make vinyl banners and foam-board signage the poorest choices.


Let’s be clear: reduction first. However, offsets for emissions are a necessary part of carbon management. To make responsible decisions about investing in offsets, judicious criteria should be considered in consultation with an expert. Visit Denver partners with Denver-based The Park People for offset projects in the form of planting  shade-providing trees. By investing in local improvements, Visit Denver directly benefits the community while accounting for its impacts.

When pursued with consistency, even incremental changes can make a difference in building an events industry committed to lowering its carbon footprint.

Lindsay Arell is the principal of Honeycomb Strategies, specializing in impactful sustainability solutions for events and venues. She is based in Crested Butte.