Whichever type of event you are planning, you should always be mindful of the impact you are making in the environment and become as Eco friendly as possible. Anytime you can recycle, reduce or reuse an event item you are helping out our environment by being sustainable. Here are Eco-friendly ideas on ways you can go green using sustainable planning practices.
Recycle all event decorations- If you are having a theme party, can you store the items in a box for the next party you plan? If not, sell the items on a free classified ad or donate usable items to a second hand store or Goodwill. Recycle decorations and party items that can be reused at a future party. For example, a pastel bucket used for a spring event could be spray painted red or gold and used as a holiday flowers centerpiece in December. Retirement party supplies and over the hill gag gifts can be recycled too.
Recycle all glass bottles, cans, and plastic beverage bottles- Encourage your venue or event caterer to recycle cans. Make sure guests have labeled boxes for recycling glass, metal cans, and plastic bottles.
Recycle your table decor- If you have a lot of parties or events, consider purchasing plain white table cloths for your tables. Then accessorize the tables with colors for your theme. This beats buying several different colors of table cloths or purchasing disposal tablecloths that are thrown out after each event. Recycle old table cloths with stains, by tie dying them or dying them another color for a 70’s or Disco themed party.
If you are using flowers at your event as table centerpieces, consider using a flower at each guest seating. Personalize each vase and the table centerpieces can double as a place card and guests can bring home a souvenir after the event. Consider using potted plants and guests can plant the flowers in their garden when they get home.
There are now throw away plates, cups and utensils made out of recycled corn materials that you can purchase that are much more Eco friendly if you must have throw away eating supplies.
Reduce or eliminate unnecessary event items- Ask yourself which event items are most likely to be thrown away and start by thinking about how you can reduce that waste. Instead of serving plastic bottles of water at an event, have a large pretty dispenser of lemon & cucumber water available instead. Serve the water in glasses rather than throw away cups.
For snacks, think about serving finger foods and serve on napkins rather than using paper plates and throw away eating utensils.
Reduce the amount of printed items- Consider choosing recycled paper products and using Eco friendly inks when printing event brochures and handouts.
You can reduce or eliminate handouts by using an overhead projection for your presentations. Just relay where attendees can download that information later, or inform guests that you will send an e-mail attachment to every guest after the meeting or event.
Consider an event website. You can relay all event agendas on a website as well as collect money for an event, send out invitations and so much more. Becoming paperless for your event or meeting is a big eco friendly sustainable idea which makes a huge environmental impact. Check out our business shopping pages for event websites. Event websites are affordable and easy to set up for your green event.
Select one location for accommodations and the event- Plan a green event by having the meeting and event at the same location, or at least close together to reduce travel and save on gas.
Webcast your event- If your venue has high speed Internet, seek a videographer who can do a webcast of your event. Broadcasting your live event is a great way for people to become part of the event without having to travel to the event site. If you can't webcast the event live, ask your videographer if they can download the tape as soon as the event is over. Videographers can provide video downloads within minutes from your business meeting or business celebration as raw footage.
Favors or promotional items- Instead of favors or promotional items that have no purpose other than using it as a paperweight, make a donation to a good cause instead. It’s also a great remembrance for someone special who could not be attendance, such as a recently deceased co-worker, disabled or recovering co-worker or retiree going through hard times.
Think small- Smaller events are more sustainable than larger events. Event transportation for your guests is the biggest issue that will affect the environment. The smaller event size, the less impact the event will create on travel, because fewer people will need to use a plane, train, and car to attend. Fewer invitees also equals less resources (favors, food, decorations etc) needed, less waste and also less money you’ll have to spend per person.
Reduce trash- Reduce the amount of trash you will be creating at your green event or meeting. Catering can create a lot of waste. Discuss recycling, leftovers and composting with your vendor. Food donation programs such as the Fork It Over! program in Portland are great programs where your company can donate excess food from your event to local food charities. A tax deduction may also be available when you donate food to local charities, and your company is protected against liability for that food donation.
Encourage your catering company to purchase organic and locally whenever possible too.
Have your caterer or baker create edible table centerpieces. Fruits displays, cupcake displays or mini desert table centerpieces are yummy creations your guest will love. Food items rarely go to waste when ordered in the right quantity.
Give to the needy- Pre-arrange to have any extra food or soft drinks delivered to your local homeless shelter after your event. Donated un-served food items are protected against liability by both federal and state laws. Food donations may also be a tax deduction for your business! By donating excess event foods to local food rescue programs, companies fosters a good community relationship. It also helps with employee morale when employees know your company cares enough to donate to the needy. Oregon and Vancouver, WA food rescue programs are already in existence for excess Event Food. So, you'll just need to find a caterer who belongs to a food rescue program in your area.
Reuse decorations- Luau items, birthday centerpieces, special tablecloths and other party items can be reused again and again. For example, use paper lanterns instead of balloons for hanging colors from the ceiling. Punching bag type balls can be blown up and recycled again for another party and look great dangling from the ceiling as an alternative to balloons that will just get thrown away after the event.
Reuse Party items- I have a great birthday table cloth that I use for every birthday. It not only looks better than a throw away table cloth, but it can be washed over and over again and is always ready for another party.
Choose event vendors and venues who are Eco-friendly- Find vendors who put sustainable practices as a priority and who also share in your desire to be as Eco friendly as possible. If you are hiring an event planner, find one who shares your passion for sustainability practices and will help you find other vendors for your event who are also Eco-friendly and sustainability responsible. Find a caterer who will make entrees with locally grown organic produce and free-range or locally raised meats. Bakeries can also use local sources and organic ingredients. To locate green friendly vendors yourself, check out sites:
Green Restaurants Green Hotels www.coopamerica.org for eco friendly listings.
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