As more industries make the shift toward “going green”, it is only natural that sustainable events have been in the spotlight in recent years. Our clients often ask us how they can make their event more eco-friendly, often expecting the answer to come with large dollar signs. The truth is, yes, some green measures can be expensive, but there are plenty of small changes you can make to your event that will leave a large footprint. Here are some steps to consider when it comes to cleaning up your event.

BE AWARE

At the minimum, every event planner should be aware of the environmental impact of their events. In an industry that is notorious for waste, there are baseline steps you should take to act responsibly. Ask your venue about their waste management system and what you need to provide to ensure recycled materials are properly handled. Work closely with your catering team and client to order the right amount of food to minimize food waste. Simply being aware of the touch-points for waste and taking cautionary steps to minimize them are cost-free ways to reduce your event’s footprint.

MAKE SIMPLE SWITCHES

Eco-friendly materials are more cost-effective than ever. Often, most event waste is food-related. For a minimal cost, most caterers will be happy to swap typical paper or plastic goods for compostable plates, utensils, and cups. If you have a higher budget, we have had clients opt for totally non-disposable dishware, making the event truly “zero waste”. Consider other areas to reduce waste as well, including using alternative signage or reducing unnecessary fliers, pamphlets, or other “swag”.

SUPPORT CONSCIOUS VENDORS


As planners, we have the opportunity to support vendors who prioritize sustainable practices. We love working with florists who source local blooms, thus reducing transportation costs. We have also noticed more caterers working directly with nearby farmers to source ingredients in a sustainable and ethical fashion. By choosing vendors who are conscious of their decisions, we can set an industry norm for more eco-friendly practices.

QUANTIFY IT

If you are serious about producing an eco-friendly event, there are plenty of companies who will help you quantify your total environmental impact. In Austin, Texas Disposal System will work with you to provide sustainable event solutions and generate a waste-impact report. Companies like Recycle Track Systems are available for similar assessments through New York, Chicago, Boston, and more. For even more comprehensive reporting, there are boutique companies who will track the impact of every decision, from transportation and electricity to food and landfill waste.

It seems most industry professionals these days are aware of the impact their events have on the environment, but surprisingly few are making active decisions to change their standard practices. The idea of a large cost barrier or unavailable resources is a misconception at this point; every planner, no matter their budget, has the opportunity (and responsibility!) to make intentional choices to create a greener industry.