Green Transportation

In order to have an event you need guests to show up!  But if you're trying to make your event more eco-friendly, how your guests get there should play a large part in your planning process. 

Here are a few suggestions to reduce your carbon footprint at your next event:

Buses & Carpooling
Not only is it more sustainable to bus or carpool as opposed to driving alone, it's cheaper and more social!  Having your guests load onto a chartered bus to your venue is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and keep the socializing going from a meeting to dinner or ceremony to reception.
All in One Venue
If you can avoid having your guests travel to multiple locations, that's your best option for a green event.  Bonus points if your venue is close to the airport or highway most of your guests came from.  If you're planning a conference long-distance you need to pay attention to the difference in a convention centre vs. a conference centre.  A conference centre has hotel rooms attached whereas a convention centre does not.  If you can find a hotel or conference centre for your event that is ideal as it will mean less travel for your attendees and who doesn't love convenience!  If you're planning a wedding, many venues offer options for the ceremony and reception to occur on the same property and your guests love it.  As late receptions have become more popular and many brides and grooms have begun to opt for "first look" photography, this is the most stress-free and eco-friendly way to host your wedding.

I've been to a few events now that have actually required the mass transportation to be completely turned off until the entire bus is loaded to reduce idling and pollution.  This is a great way to visibly show your attendees that you're making an effort to be more eco-friendly with your event.  

Walking Tours
While at a conference a number of guests walked from sessions and dinners together instead of taking the subway, bus, or taxis.  This was great because it felt safer for all of us to walk together and it influenced others to join.  While planning your event, consider having staff members guide groups or create easy to follow maps for guests to feel comfortable walking from one location to another.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead

Best of luck with your transportation planning!


A Green Invite

In the day and age of technology, it seems almost strange to receive snail mail from a friend or business.  I'll be the first to admit I get excited over a card in the mail, however, the chance of a response to it is not likely... you're getting an email. 

I'm currently working with our local hospital foundation on their upcoming gala and after much research they have opted to just send out electronic Save-the-Dates.  Not only is this a more eco-friendly option, but it will save them money on their printing costs!  (Great option for non-profit organizations.)

If you know you want to print your invitation anyway but still want to be green, there are a few options for printing.

1.  Print on recycled paper- this is available at most print shops or for purchase online. If you're working with a graphic designer, they can be very helpful finding you the right paper and envelopes to stay green!

2.  Print double sided- use less paper by printing your invites double sided.  You could also consider doubling up your programs by including the reception program and menu all in one.  I've done this for weddings and galas and it works out great!

3.  Forgo RSVP cards and envelopes- just because your invites are paper doesn't mean your RSVP's can't be done electronically!  Create a new email or website (many available for events online) for guests to respond to.  An event specific website is great for emailing out updates, directions, and other need-to-knows.

If you want to get really creative, there are invitations you can buy that after your guest is done with them you can plant them in the ground and they grow!

Remember, an invitation is your guests first look at your event and how well you design and present it sets the tone for the entire event.  Keep this in mind as you go forth with your invitations!



Green Terminology

If you're going to plan a green event you need to understand the different terms commonly used when relating to environmental sustainability.

Biodegradable: products that will break down and decompose into elements found in nature.
Example) You may purchase bidegradable plates for your event

Compostable:  paper, food, leaves, and other items that can decompose into organic matter through composting, the art of turning organic waste into soil-conditioning material.
Example) You can purchase invitations that you can plant after (so neat!)

Eco: short for ecological that is designed to be in harmony with the environment.

Green: environmentally friendly products and activities.

Green Washing: falsely claiming to be green. 

Local:  said to be 1-200 km radius.

Reclaimed: salvaged materials that are returned to use, as in wood recovered from a demolition site.
Example) Use old wine barrels as cocktail tables.  Looks awesome!

Sustainable:  the result of practices that "sustain" our natural resources rather than deplete or permanently damage them.  Reusing, recycling, and powering your home with renewable energy are all sustainable practices.

Hopefully understanding these terms help you get the most out of your eco-friendly event!


Green Catering

An important part of every event is "getting people fed and watered" (as my mom would say).  Aside from using as much local food as possible, there are a few other things to consider when organizing the food and beverage aspects of your event to be more environmentally friendly. 

1.  The # of Courses
The number of courses you serve will impact your eco-footprint.  The more meals you serve may mean more transportation and definitely more dishwashing.  For the least impact, limited the amount of courses you serve and choose a seated dinner rather than a buffet to limit the amount of dishes used.

2.  The Bar
Serve just wine and beer and a signature drink or cocktail rather than a full bar.  A full bar requires several different kinds of glasses.  Also, limiting your bar stock helps save you money!  Win-win.

3.  Bottled Water
Ban bottled water to avoid the plastic and the energy required to deliever all those bottles.  Consider water stations or water jugs on tables instead.

4.  Leftovers
Reduce your food waste by offering leftover meals to the catering staff (if they don't already get it) or send them to a soup kitchen so that nothing is wasted.  Make arrangements to have the scraps composted.

5.  Location
Host your event at a restaurant, cafe, or garden with a kitchen onsite.  The less your caterers have to travel to deliver your food, the lower your eco-footprint.

6.  Seasonality
Pick items that are in season and as close to home as possible.  Not only will your food taste better, it will suit your theme of your event for the time of the year (ex. pumpkin soup in October).

Happy menu planning!