Creating a paperless event

24 March 2022

When planning an event there are many areas that we choose to organise based on previous successful practices. Using paper in some areas of an event such as programmes, tickets, handouts, etc. has been quite common. But although paper can be recycled, it is more environmentally and sometimes budget friendly to avoid using it in the first place. Thanks to technology it’s now easier to go paperless.

Here are five things you can do if you want your event to be as paper free as possible:

1. Send the relevant information digitally
The most inexpensive way to do this is to send all relevant materials via email. This not only saves paper but may also make things easier for attendees to access the needed documents. On the other hand, it is time consuming, especially if you have a large number of attendees or if they are split into different tracks of your event. Another way is to create a clear and easy to navigate website about your event. This will help your attendees access whatever they need, from timetables to presentations, from anywhere at any time. These days there are also quite a few apps available to event organisers.

2. No handouts or notepad paper given out during the event
Most attendees have their laptops or tablets with them on the day. This means that they have access to anything that was available before the event, but they also can access anything sent each day. You can use Dropbox, WeTransfer, SlideShare, or any other available tool to share handouts during the event. Some of the more advanced event apps allow for PDF uploads of presentations too. If you choose to create a website or an app you can use these to share any needed documents.

3. Inform your attendees about going paperless
Crafting a clear message about the way you chose to go paperless and how the attendees can help is important. Informing them beforehand about how they are going to receive the relevant documents, how they can use the website or app you created, and asking them to bring a device to use for the duration of the event is crucial for the success of ‘going paperless’.

4. Reduce the use of posters and signs
A good way to reduce printing posters and signs for the various areas of the event is to use projectors and monitors. This offers more flexibility when it comes to last-minute changes and the equipment can be reused. Furthermore, the use of QR codes can help provide further information and they are easily created. Including the URL below the QR code is useful in case a device without a camera is used or if the camera is not easily accessible. There are free online QR generators. Of course, don’t forget to switch off any devices used at the end of the day.

5. Plan for the times you will have to use paper
Sometimes you won’t be able to fully be paperless. When that’s the case go for recycled paper and use double-sided printing. Also, make sure you have a designated and clearly labelled bin for paper only.

Small changes can add up to a big impact. Creating a paperless event can significantly reduce its overall environmental impact. Visit our sustainability blogs for more tips.

Are you thinking about how to improve the sustainability of your event? Find out more about our Sustainable Conferencing Grants and how we can help you to collaborate productively while minimising your impact on the environment for your next scientific event.


Visit our journal websites

Development Journal of Cell Science The Journal of Experimental Biology Disease Models & Mechanisms Biology Open

© 2024 The Company of Biologists Ltd | Registered Charity 277992
Registered in England and Wales | Company Limited by Guarantee No 514735
Registered office: Bidder Building, Station Road, Histon, Cambridge CB24 9LF, UK