Sustainability for Boutique Experiences

Lifestyle & Culture

LEO’s Guide to Sustainability

As awareness increases regarding the importance of cultivating a more sustainable relationship with the environment, the demand for more environmentally responsible events is on the rise. To those unfamiliar with the topic, the task of planning a sustainable event can appear daunting. There’s a mountain of information to sift through, and it can be difficult to assess what advice is sound. That’s why LEO has compiled this list of resources, literature, directories, and insight to offer guidance to those seeking to design an event with a lower carbon footprint.


Getting Started – resources tailored to offer guidance and direction early in the event design process
  • 17 Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations
    • The heart of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, these standards offer guidance throughout the process of designing a sustainable event.
  • Green Meetings from the EPA
    • A wonderful place to get started, this website acts as a trailhead for the EPA’s expansive sustainability resources.


Destination – resources to help select a destination and venue that supports sustainable event design goals
  • Destination Selection Key to Sustainable Meetings from Meetings Today
    • Guidance on how to select a destination that suits the needs of a sustainable event
  • How to Travel Sustainably from the New York Times
    • Although this article is intended for individual consumers, it includes valuable guidance regarding sustainable travel practices and destination selection.
  • Green Hotels from the EPA
    • A trailhead for various resources related to sustainable hotels, including links to relevant programs, associations, and certifications


Waste Reduction – resources to help reduce waste of all kinds
  • Conducting and Analyzing a Food Waste Assessment from the EPA
    • It’s difficult to reduce waste when you aren’t sure how much waste is being produced! This guide provides steps on acquiring a baseline measurement.
  • Food Recovery Hierarchy from the EPA
    • This tool prioritizes actions undertaken to reduce food waste.
  • How To Create A Sustainable Menu For Your Event from Corporate Event News
    • Thoughtful insight and advice to guide the creation of a sustainable food and beverage plan.
  • Food Loss and Waste from the USDA
    • This webpage is a trailhead for a variety of resources to help businesses reduce food loss and waste, including information regarding best practices, relevant legislation, and tax benefits.
  • Change the Flow of Food from Hotel | Kitchen
    • A toolkit tailored to help the hospitality industry understand and reduce food waste, this resource is accessible to all involved in the planning process.
  • Sustainable Materials Management from the EPA
    • A wonderful resource for using and reusing materials more productively, this webpage is a trailhead for a host of resources related to recycling, using recycled products, and selecting eco-friendly materials.


Directories, Programs, and Organizations – broader collections of information able to offer specific guidance or assistance


A note about carbon-offset programs

Regardless of how much planners strive to reduce an event’s carbon footprint, it’s not feasible to host an in-person event without producing a carbon footprint. Thus, those striving to remain completely carbon-neutral often seek out carbon-offset programs, in which they can monetarily support projects intended to remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

While well-intentioned, the carbon-offset market is a novel one that isn’t bound by a consistent set of regulations, and many offsets don’t deliver the reductions they promise. Additionally, the concept of “offsetting” can lessen an organization’s sense of responsibility to take action to reduce its own carbon footprint. When considering whether a carbon-offset program is right for an event, research the program to ensure it delivers veritable results.


Responsible Carbon-Offset Organizations and Registries
  • Climate Action Reserve
    • A vetted registry of carbon-offset projects
  • Green-e
    • A third-party certification registry of carbon-offset projects
  • GoldStandard
    • An organization that maintains best-practice standards for sustainable development, extensively auditing projects
  • Verra
    • An organization that audits and endorses projects according to Verified Carbon Standard program standards


Although sustainable event design can seem daunting, these resources can offer insight and guidance along the way. Remember, the goal isn’t to be perfect! Rather, focus on implementing small, achievable changes that can grow over time.