It can be easy to blame the event industry’s throwaway culture for the millions of plastic bottles tossed in landfills over the years. Tons of uneaten food has been thrown into garbage bins and countless paper business cards lost inside pockets and purses. Since events are generally one-time affairs, the idea of reusing and recycling has been difficult and expensive to implement. Luckily, eco-friendly incentives have been the rage lately and event managers around the world are reconsidering their plans’ impact on the earth.
If you’re ready to go green, here are a few simple tips to put you on the right path.
1. Choose a venue that is accessible via public transportation. You can also encourage your guests to carpool or use services like Zimride. If you’re wondering about the carbon footprint your event will leave behind, you can use this tool to calculate an estimate.
2. For events with a menu, incorporate hors d’oeuvres that do not require utensils to eat. If you can eat with your fingers, you won’t even need plastic utensils. However, if your guests aren’t the finger-food type, don’t worry. There are many sustainable options for biodegradable plates, utensils and dishes, like those made by German catering company fairgourmet.
3. Speaking of food, make sure you pick your caterer carefully. Hire someone who uses sustainable food practices. Look for a caterer who uses: locally-sourced food, wild-caught seafood, reusable flatware and organic ingredients. Also, work with your caterer to create a donation plan for excess unserved food. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has an excellent guide for food donation if you need suggestions.
4. Cut paper out of your process. Utilize technology to avoid paper as much as possible. Scan leads instead of collecting business cards. Check attendees in online instead of checking them off a list. Have your speakers project their presentations instead of passing out pamphlets or printed notes. Your company will look more tech-savvy and you’ll save a tree or two in the process.
5. Provide recycling bins. Although it may seem obvious, this step is very important and often forgotten. The simple presence of a recycling bin increases attendees’ mindfulness of where they toss their trash. Recycling bins also double as a visible proclamation that your company is earth-conscious.