Events of all sizes can do a lot to reduce their impact on the environment. From baby showers to National Night Out, to a corporate event, any event can demonstrate the economic and community benefits of going green!
Not sure where to begin when thinking about ways your event can be more environmentally friendly this year? Look no further! Check out these resources for ideas on how to get started with going green at your event!
Event Planning At Home10 Simple Ways to GO GREEN when Event Planning
► Put out containers for food waste recycling. This is a great option if you have curbside pick-up of food waste/non-recyclable paper. If you do not have this option, ask ahead of time for neighborhood volunteers who are willing to compost food waste from your event in their backyard compost bins or deliver the food waste to the Environmental Center. (Note: composting meat and dairy products in backyard bins is not recommended.) If you think you might have leftover food, divide it up amongst attendees or contact local shelters or food kitchens to learn about food donation opportunities.
► Provide reusable plates, cups, silverware and linens. If you do not have enough reusable items, consider asking to borrow some from a friend or renting items. You can also ask event attendees to bring their own reusable plates and utensils from home. As an alternative, consider using compostable paper plates and add those materials to the food waste recycling as stated above.
► Only serve beverages in reusable or recyclable containers. If you do not have enough reusable cups, ask attendees to bring a reusable cup from home.
► Consider distributing invitations electronically via email, Facebook or evite to reduce paper waste. This will help cut down on paper use. If that is not an option, print all event flyers double-sided or shorten to two flyers per page on a minimum of 30% post-consumer content recycled paper. Most copy stores provide a selection of recycled paper.
► If you are making your own food, consider using local food, such as from a farmer’s market or your own backyard garden. For potluck events, encourage attendees to use local food. If food for your event is being provided by an outside source, talk to your catering company about how they can incorporate local food into the menu and reduce wasteful packaging.
► Use decorations that can be reused in future years, and limit or don’t use balloons. If you are printing banners or other signs, making sure they are recycled at the end of the day. Also consider using a reusable banner, and not including the event year on so they may be used again. Fresh-cut flowers are also a nice addition.
► Provide condiments in bulk instead of individually wrapped servings. For example, provide bottles of ketchup instead of individual packets. Buy other products in bulk whenever possible.
► Encourage your guests to carpool, and when possible, provide information on bike and transit routes to your home.
► If you are providing party favors consider providing sustainable favors, such as a potted plant, or gifts made from recycled or reused materials. If gift giving is involved, encourage attendees to give an “experience”, such as concert tickets, instead of “stuff”.
Event Planning At Work
Some Helpful Tips
► The greenest fit. Destination, accommodation and venue selection are important. Make your greening goals known to all involved in planning and execution of the meeting. Discuss criteria, outcomes and evaluation.
► Put it in writing. Include sustainable practices clauses in your contracts with the venue, caterers and hotels you are recommending to meeting attendees.
Venue and Hotel Selection
Ask the meeting venue and hotels about their environmental practices, including their waste and resource management. Try to find a venue or hotels that:
► Have recycling programs established for all house areas.
► Have clearly labeled recycling bins in place and recycle paper, plastics, glass and metals.
► Have food rescue, food-to-animals or food composting programs collect all food scraps and leftovers.
► Use reusable rather than disposable goods.
► Have an energy efficiency program and use energy-efficient lighting (i.e. fluorescent lighting).
► Minimize using harmful chemicals while cleaning.
► Have bulk dispensers for shampoos and soaps in guest rooms.
► Use post-consumer recycled content paper products.
► Have water-conserving fixtures in place (low-flow shower heads and faucets, toilet flushing).
► Offer guests the option to avoid unnecessary laundering of bed linens and towels.
► Provide guests with paperless check-in and checkout.
Ask the catering company about their environmental practices. Ask your caterer to:
► Use organic, seasonal, fresh and/or local foods and provide vegetarian options.
► Offer fair trade, shade grown, and organic coffee.
► Accurately count meeting attendees to avoid food waste.
► Avoid using disposable dinnerware and individual packaged items, and use reusable dishware, cutlery, linens and tablecloths.
► Use bulk dispensers for salt, sugar, pepper, creamer and other condiments.
► Use minimal packaging that is recyclable and recycle materials accordingly.
► Compost or recycle food waste, and arrange to donate un-served food to a local food rescue organization.
► Choose reusable centerpieces and decorations.
► During breaks, avoid the use of single-serving beverages, and encourage use of reusable mugs and water bottles.
Travel and transportationWays to make your travel and transportation as green as possible:
► Connect to the airport by mass transit and/or offer group shuttle services.
► Select a venue location within walking distance to green hotels and/or public transportation.
► Use alternative fuel vehicles to get to and from the meeting and/or airport.
► Provide electronic links and/or maps of public transportation near the venue to attendees in advance.
► Provide bus or light rail tickets along with the registration packet.
► Establish a Carbon-Neutral initiative to counteract the CO2 emissions from your meeting.
► Minimize idling of vehicles in transit and during loading/unloading.
Communications and MarketingPossible ways to make your planning and execution of the event as green as possible:
► Use paperless technology (websites, online registration and advertising, etc).
► If written materials are necessary, have them printed with vegetable based inks on post-consumer recycled paper. Print on both sides of the paper.
► Avoid printing excess documents for the meeting.
► Use erasable boards, or electronic gadgets to document meeting discussions, and then e-mail the results to attendees.
► As speakers to minimize handouts; offer to post presentations on a web site.
► Use recycled paper nametags or reusable name tags that participants return at the end of the event.
► Consider broadcasting the meeting over the Internet to minimize air travel.
► Consider reusable or edible products as giveaways. Reusable mugs or water bottles are great, and can be used during the event.
At the Event
► Use signage to clearly mark all recycling and composting containers and sustainable menu selection options.
► Post signage for event attendees with energy and water conservation prompts.
► Ask participants to recycle or turn-in reusable nametags at the end of the event.
► Post information about transit and alternative transportation options in a central place.
► Announce the green goals of the event to participants and ask for their assistance to meet them.
► Develop and report metrics such as water and energy savings, composting, and other sustainable objectives during the event and lessons learned.
► Highlight any extra steps the event site has undertaken to become more sustainable.
► Ask participants to evaluate the sustainability aspects with a questionnaire at the event or an email survey sent directly following the event.
► Calculate and report results of sustainability initiatives at the event and post event outcomes on event website.