As you gear up for World Environment Day on June 5th, you might want to be thinking of either a) having an Earth Day-inspired event, or b) making any or all of your upcoming events more environmentally-friendly, green, sustainable—you get the picture.
Environmental sustainability is a good thing to have in mind as you plan events, not just because you care about the environment, but also because your guests are increasingly likely to care about the environment, and be impressed that you’re making an effort to be responsible. Similarly, if you’re creating events for an organization or brand, having more environmentally responsible events sends a good message about your brand. Basically, it’s a win-win.
There are a LOT of ways to build environmental sustainability into your events; we’ve narrowed it down to a practically useful list of just 24 things we think are doable, either for a personal event or a brand event. But don’t feel bad if you can’t do everything on the list! Even doing a few things on the list—even one—will reduce the carbon footprint of your event.
Here’s to going green(er)!
- Hold the event outside. This reduces the energy consumed to keep a building running, eg. for air conditioning, indoor lights, etc.
- Pay attention to the reputations of your vendors. Do a bit of research to locate and use vendors who use environmentally responsible practices.
- Paperless marketing. Focus your marketing efforts on social media and digital word-of-mouth versus traditional advertising (like flyers and posters). The SquadUP app can help with that!
- Keep your event local. Choose a location that will be local to most of your guests, cutting down on travel and fuel use.
- Digital ticketing. Replace traditional paper tickets with the more planet-friendly alternative. Our app can help with that, too!
- Source local. Reduce energy used in food transport by sourcing food from a local grower, or a caterer that uses local ingredients. If you’re making the food yourself, hit the local farmer’s market.
- Vegetarian menu. Perfect for summer, a vegetarian menu can be light and fresh, and it’s conveniently planet-friendly compared to a meat-heavy menu. This is because factory-farmed meat requires a huge amount of energy to maintain, and contributes substantially to greenhouse gas emissions. An added benefit of going veggie: it’s probably less expensive!
- Avoid the worst foods for the planet. In general, factory-farmed meat is an eco-disaster (see #7)—other foods to avoid due to their adverse effects on the environment are palm oil (the largest cause of rainforest destruction) and genetically modified corn products (their use causes major losses of biodiversity around the world). Palm oil and GMO corn tend to be ingredients of heavily processed, packaged foods, so avoiding them has added taste and health benefits, too.
- Use organic food. One way to keep things simple food-wise is to go organic where possible. Organic farming, unlike conventional farming, doesn’t include adding any artificial chemicals or pesticides into the environment (or the food), so it helps preserve biodiversity (by not killing local wildlife), which has a host of benefits in itself.
- Look for coffee with the Rainforest Alliance sticker. This goes especially for coffee, the production of which is responsible for quite a lot of the chemical farming that goes on. The RA sticker on the package—it has a green gecko—means the coffee was shade-grown using natural fertilizers.
- Avoid plastic and paper. For decorations, napkins and anything else that could have a disposable option, try to stick to natural and reusable materials instead, like jute, wood and linen.
- Use real plates, cutlery and glasses. Again, avoid the disposable options when possible, and opt for the real thing (classier, too!).
- Make instead of buying. When it comes to decorating, it’s almost always more eco-friendly to create using materials you have (and that can be reused) versus buying decorations that will be discarded or used only for events. (Here’s one Pinterest search that yielded a few great ideas—Pinterest is a great resource for this kind of thing.)
- Use live plants rather than cut flowers. Store-bought, cut flowers are typically the result of environmentally questionable growing practices. A better option is wildflowers—but even this can be bad for bees and bee pollination, since you’re effectively removing a source of food. The best option is to decorate with live plants—such as potted flowers or even tree saplings—and these can even be given away as party favors (see #23).
- Use recycled materials. If you’re using paper materials for things like event posters, designate to the printer you want them on recycled material wherever possible.
- Provide group transport. If you’re able to do so, providing group transport makes life easier for your guests—especially if there’s any imbibing going on—as well as being better for the environment.
- Encourage ridesharing. Another option is to encourage guests to use a ridesharing service, or giving them a forum to arrange rideshares. Uber is now integrated into our app to help guests arrange convenient rideshares, right through the app itself!
- Use a screen. If your event is a professional one, opt for a smart screen or projection screen rather than using paper handouts or conference packets.
- Encourage electronics. Another one for professional events: people often feel awkward using their tablets or phones to take notes, as it can be perceived as rude, even though it’s more environmentally sound than scribbling on sheets of paper. Let guests know you openly encourage using their phones and tablets to take notes, pictures, video, etc.
- Give event proceeds to an environmental charity. If your event is directly related to an environmental issue, or even if it isn’t, you can win hearts and minds by donating a substantial proportion of your proceeds to an environmental charity.
- Plug an environmental charity. If you aren’t donating a huge amount to a charity but you have one in mind that would be relevant to mention, give them a shout from your party-hosting platform. You may even contact the charity ahead of time and register to take donations on their behalf.
- Take an opportunity to raise awareness about a particular issue. On a similar note, do you have an environmental issue you want to bring up for Earth Day, or just because? If it suits the atmosphere of the event, go ahead and speak about it—how often do you have a captive audience, after all?
- Give environmentally friendly gifts. As party favors and thank-you gifts, considering giving guests eco-friendly gifts like small potted plants, wildflower seedbombs, tree saplings, galvanized metal water bottles, or recycled cloth shopping bags.
- Responsible cleanup. Oversee the cleanup and recycle everything you can, including compostables.
If you have a tip to add, leave it for us in comments or tweet to us! And as always, if you haven’t checked out our app for planning your next event, there’s no time like the present