How to Make an Event Sustainable

Events create waste. If you’ve ever attended a trade show, a corporate Christmas party, or other event, you’ve seen the overflow of paper, disposables, and garbage generated by having a good time…but this doesn’t need to be the case! 

Whether you’re organizing a wedding, birthday bash, corporate event, or a doggie daycare graduation party, you can make a significant impact by going green. In this blog, we’ve collected some of our favorite sustainability tips and tricks to take your event from waste-making to memory-making.

Plan with the Planet in mind.

Photo by All in Adventures Photography

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Let’s start with the three Rs that we all know and love — Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle — a solid jumping off point for any event. Keep these in mind, and ask yourself how you can incorporate at least one ‘R’ into every aspect of your event to start reducing waste!

  • Reduce the demand for new products: Opt for digital invitations instead of paper ones. Think evites, folks! Fewer trees harmed and more RSVPs received!
  • Reuse products, giving them a new life: Rent items like tables, chairs, and linens to reduce the demand for new products. Or take it a step further and raid granny’s attic for vintage decor. It’s not only trendy but also sustainable!
  • Recycle, turn single use items into something new: Make recycling bins accessible at your event and encourage your guests to toss their cans and bottles in there instead of the trash. Or go a step further and up-cycle something, giving a second life to an item.

1. Food for Thought

Ah, food – the heart and soul of any event (and of your sustainability efforts).

  • Cooking Oil: Ask your caterers if they reuse or donate excess cooking oil. 
  • Ethical Options: Support eco-affiliations like Ocean Wise and Green Table Network to ensure your event’s food is environmentally friendly.
  • Menu Inspiration: Get inspired by your own food memories. Consider recreating dishes you love from your childhood or travels, using local and seasonal ingredients. And don’t forget to plan for leftovers!
  • Drinks: Self-serve water stations and reusable drinkware can reduce waste. Pro tip: reusable water bottles sporting your name and event date can make great guest gifts. 
  • Food Choices: Offer vegetarian and vegan options to reduce the carbon footprint of your event. For example, a Mediterranean-inspired menu is both delicious AND sustainable.

2. Energy-Saving Ideas

Energy efficiency isn’t just for your home; it’s for your event space, too.

  • Venue: Opt for a venue that’s LEED Gold or Platinum certified. These places have sustainability built right in.
  • Daytime Events: Natural light is your friend (particularly for pictures). Consider clear tents to let the sun in and your guests dry on rainy Vancouver days. If you still need artificial lighting, try using energy-efficient bulbs. 
  • Travel and Transportation: Choose a venue close to public transportation or arrange a shuttle for your guests. You could even encourage carpooling and offset your guests’ travel emissions.

3. Mindful Stationery

Go paperless to maintain your sustainable superhero status.

  • Paperless: Go digital! Save trees and reduce waste by opting for online invitations and RSVPs.
  • Biodegradable: If you need that stick-it-to-your fridge, hold it in your hands, paper feeling; choose biodegradable seed paper or 100% post-consumer recycled paper. 
  • Vegetable-based inks: These help make invites more compostable- and so does avoiding plastic-based ribbons, glitter and acrylics. (And really, no one’s looking to open a glitter bomb in their home anyway!)

4. Thoughtful Gifts

Favors and gifts for your guests can be eco-friendly and meaningful.

  • Edible Gifts: Support local and source goodies at farmers’ markets. Jams, seasoning or baking mixes, even handmade crafts are excellent choices — just avoid the single use plastic packaging if you can. Small mason jars can go a long way for wedding favors.
  • Reusable Gifts: Can your guests use a small gift, like a keychain, luggage tag, or even take-home centerpieces like small plants? These all make excellent keepsakes of your big day, just remember your friends might already have 12 other reusable mugs, bottles, or tote bags at home.
  • Charity Donations: Let your guests know you’ve made a contribution in their honor to an important cause. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

5. Eco-Chic Attire

Whether you’re the bride, groom, or a guest, your attire can make a statement. Read more about finding your perfect eco-friendly wedding dress on our next blog post!

  • Eco-friendly Wedding Dress: Consider renting, buying second-hand (hello Facebook), or going non-traditional with your attire. Juts remember that vintage materials may be delicate and might need reinforcing with a professional seamstress.
  • Eco-Friendly Wedding Guests Attire: Reuse, borrow, or thrift a chic new look. Past bridesmaid’s dresses can be shortened or altered to fit the theme (and lots of us have these sitting in the closet, just begging to be used!)

6. Fresh Florals (Or Not!)

  • Fresh Florals: Source locally and seasonally to minimize transportation. Avoid dyed flowers and make sure your florist doesn’t use harmful floral foam.
  • Alternatives: Consider naturally dried florals, pressed flowers, wooden/paper bouquets, greenery-only decor, produce, or home decor as unique and sustainable alternatives.

7. Waste Management

If you can’t reduce it, manage it! 

  • Minimize Single-Use Items: providing reusable glassware and utensils helps eliminate disposable waste.
  • Waste Signage: Clearly label recycling and composting bins. If the budget stretches, you can even hire staff to manage waste during the event so the responsibility doesn’t fall on guests.
  • Leftovers: The food doesn’t disappear just because the event ended. Come ready to donate, preserve, or creatively repurpose extras.

8. Eco-Friendly Photography

Keep your memories (and the planet) pristine.

  • Efficient Equipment: Choose a photographer who uses durable, energy-efficient equipment.
  • Respect Nature: Ensure your photographer respects the environment and maintains a safe distance from wildlife and fragile habitats.
  • Digital Storage: Opt for digital photos and store them online using software like Google Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud. This keeps your images safe (in case of accidents or tech fails) and easily shareable!

Start sooner than later

By implementing these sustainable practices, you can host an event that not only brings people together, but also helps protect our planet. Remember, every eco-conscious choice you make counts, and the earlier the preparation, the better you can be at this! So, let’s party with a purpose – a sustainable one! 🌎🌿🎉

Looking for more imaginative ways to make your event sustainable? Or maybe you’re just overwhelmed by the possibilities? Luckily, I’m here to help. Drop me a line, and we can hop on a complimentary planning call to figure out how I can support you in creating the green wedding day of your dreams.

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