Event Planning: Big Impact, Small Carbon Footprint: Planning an Environmentally Friendly Event
Go big on the impact and small on the environmental damage as an event planner by planning for environmentally friendly events.
We can never repeat it enough, but the future of our lovely planet depends largely on our eco-friendly initiatives and behaviour. Climate change and environmental degradation are the real enigmas we face and listen to every day on the radio, social media and newspapers. Plastic-filled water bodies, animals dying from our litter, melting ice caps, warming temperatures, contaminated soils — we have heard it all. Now is the time to act for a positive change in the industry.
Believe us, ecology is the future of the events industry as it is for any other industry. And the good thing for us in the event’s industry is that it only takes a few changes around our choices to make this huge impact in the industry as well as nature.
As corporate and private event planners, doing our part is our responsibility to the society around us. Let’s make sure that the events we plan leave as little carbon footprint as possible. Planning an eco-friendly event will not only generate climate change conversation, awareness and good impressions amongst your attendees and vendors but also encourages audiences to choose an eco-friendly lifestyle and together we can make it happen. Below are some ideas to plan environmentally friendly events. Of course, every event can’t incorporate every single tip, but do what you can to do your part for our Earth!
1. Avoid Disposables and Embrace Reusables!
Disposables can come in the form of eating utensils, takeaway containers and cutlery and single-use wrappers and sachets. These pesky styrofoams and plastics fill up landfills, pollute water bodies and harm land and aquatic animals. Ditch them!
Use Eco-friendly Utensils
Either rent metal utensils, cutlery, and straws or get compostable disposables, like spoons, forks, and plates made of bamboo. This not only lends a classy touch to the event but also reduces waste, plastics, and the cost. Dawn Chen, the regional sales manager for an international hospitality chain, who started her own online store, yoursustainablestore for eco-friendly supplies says, “To lead a greener lifestyle does not mean we have to compromise on style and aesthetics. I started this venture with the aim to make a wide variety of practical yet stylish sustainable products easily available”. She sources her products like stainless steel straws, bamboo fibre takeaway cups, reusable bottles and produce-bags from around the world. Ms Chen personally tests all her products to ensure they are food-safe, environment-safe, affordable and at the same time stylish for grand environments.
BYOC (Bring Your Own Cutlery)
Better yet, encourage guests to use their personal cutlery when you do your event planning, explaining to them your rationale for doing so. The non-profit Zerowastesg’s started BYO Singapore campaign where retail outlets offered incentives if people carry their own reusable bags, bottles or containers. The environmental group, Greenpeace’s campaign in China asked people to bring their own chopsticks to restaurants in order to avoid disposable chopsticks made from cutting down trees. The campaign was a huge success with backing from celebrities. Similarly, why cant events promote BYOC and eco-friendly products? This not only supports the green businesses but also educates and makes rippling effect towards sustainable events.
Avoid Using Small One-Use Packets
Put things that usually come in one-use packagings like sugar, pepper, and salt in a few glass shakers that can be passed around for meals at events. Shops like Unpackt manages a zero-waste grocery store where shoppers bring their own empty containers to fill in groceries that can be paid for by its weight. This reduces the need for small plastic bottles/containers and also helps cut down on packaging costs and waste. The Social Space serves food in coconut bowls, drinks with steel straws and encourages suppliers to bring their products in bulk (e.g. sell coffee to them in large reusable tubs) instead of small bottles. The event caterers can collaborate with such providers to bring food in eco-friendly packaging or reusable containers for events.
Use Eco-Friendly Event Marketing Materials
Instead of handing out your company’s marketing goodies or usable items like pens and notebooks wrapped in those flimsy plastic coverings, hand them out unpackaged in large reusable trays. Plan eco-friendly event stationeries or marketing materials with your customized branding from green vendors. Reduce the paper trail by using email correspondence, recycled paper, or plantable paper (seed paper).
2. Have Separate Bins for Recyclables, Disposables, and Compostables
Every little effort counts when it comes to event planning for sustainability! Reduce your event’s overall waste by recycling what can be recycled and composting what can be composted. A bit of personal inconvenience goes a long way in reducing our carbon footprint!
3. Bring Local Organic Produce to Table
Choosing a plant-based diet can cut down your carbon footprint by 50%. And choosing local organic produce over pesticide-contaminated vegetables or fruits will be healthier, tastier and also an inspiration for the guests. This will also make a huge positive environmental impact and statement for your event while supporting the organic farmers and retailers. It will be a great opportunity for you as the event planner and your event attendees to try something new. Who knows, it may even encourage them to adopt such a diet once in a while in their daily lives!
Source: Open Farm Community
There are authentic organic restaurants or caterers in Singapore known for their unadulterated culinary offerings either by sourcing fresh ingredients from local independent farmers or producing their own organic food. Open Farm Community, for instance, is an undisputed pioneer in the farm-to-table concept who sources fresh ingredients from local farms like Hay Dairies, Ah Hua Kelong, and Toh Thye San farm. Eco-friendly event planning is a pure delight with ventures like theirs, offering large outdoor recreation spaces for events, fresh food with a view of the open kitchen, bar, and pristine farm, and other outdoor farming events and recreational activities.
4. Plan Eco-Friendly Events with Chic, Green Event Decor
No Balloons or Plastic Banners, Please! Balloons and plastics - these are the worst! Balloons make their way into nature’s unfortunate “sink”, the ocean, choking and killing marine life. PVC and vinyl banners, being non-biodegradable, are no better! There are tons of other decoration options that do not harm the environment, which are also a hot trend that is here to stay. Make your events classy, contemporary and inspiring with eco-friendly event decor ideas. When you do your event planning, opt for fabric banners or bunting instead. Brighten up the dining area with colourful paper cups. Hang paper lanterns instead of balloons. Place little candles in coloured mason jars. Get creative! Get environmentally conscious!
5. Opt for Rejuvenating Open-Air Venues
Source: Thomas Point Beach Events
As an event planner, try to opt for an open-air venue if possible. If your event is in the daytime, this will reduce the need for artificial lighting, most of which run on fossil fuels. This will also lessen the need for air conditioning, a huge contributor to climate change. Enchanting open-air garden venues like the Summerhouse encouraging green produce and nature co-living have been a huge success among audiences and planners for feel-good corporate and personal events of all sizes.
6. Use E-Tickets Instead of Printed Tickets
If your event is a ticketed one, save on paper and score on efficiency with e-tickets. Your guests get to enjoy the convenience of having their tickets in their phones instead of carrying paper tickets they have to print (and remember where they put them). Some e-ticket platforms also let them pre-register beforehand so that entry on the day itself is a breeze without any bottlenecks. What’s more, you are saving the trees at the same time!
7. Rent Instead of Buy
After the event, you don’t know if you’ll ever use things you bought specially for the event ever again. Most of the time, they get thrown away. This goes for props, decoration, costumes, furniture, F&B utensils and cutlery, and so on. Therefore, it is always wise for event planners to rent eco-friendly event essentials instead of buying. This is a huge boost for the environment, and your wallet!
Finally, did you know that you can also use ISO 20121 Standard for an Eco-Friendly Event?
Same like the ISO standards that regulate industries, ISO 20121 is a specific standardization for Eco-friendly events. According to the International Organization for Standardization, the ISO 20121 standard is “a concrete tool for planning events in such a way that they contribute to the three dimensions — economic, environmental and social — of sustainable development”.
With Earth Day around the corner, now is the time to show some love towards our beautiful planet. Be a responsible event planner and plan your next green gathering with ideas from great eco-friendly event venues and vendors in our portal!