Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Attack of the Green Monster: Making Sense out of Sustainable Events

Let’s face it: most of us rely on a
certain amount of unsustainable resources to maintain our daily
lives. Events are not much different in this regard, and if you aren’t careful, your event can become an unsustainable nightmare: beginning and ending with the consumption of one-time use materials. Even for the most seasoned event planner, creating a large green event can be likened to jumping through hoops of fire.

When we were hired to plan and execute the USGBC-LI (United States Green Building Council-Long Island Chapter) Annual Green Gala, we knew we had a small challenge on our hands.
With a guest list over 450 and a fairly strict budget, we had to make the best decision based on economics as well as being environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, going green usually costs a lot more green, even when buying in bulk. When having a green event, much thought needs to be put towards priorities; often times being completely green isn’t possible.

Going Green Checklist:
-What can you re-use? Can you use potted plants instead of flowers?
-Think about your event. If you are planning an elegant gala, why not use a functional party favor, such as sustainably resourced aluminum or steel water bottles complete with a company or organization’s logo? If you're planning on a company or team building outing, you could provide solar powered alarm clocks or flashlights as a party favor. Be creative and think about the client's industry!
- What can leave an imprint on people’s minds as well as being sustainable? Flashdrives are re-usable and are also a fantastic networking tool: you can put a presentation, photos or just the contact info onto every flashdrive that is handed out at the end of the event.

We chose to be as green as we could muster while respecting our client’s budget. This often meant having to purchase 50% or 75% recycled materials instead of 100%. We used biodegradable Verterra plateware, (made from a renewable resource of fallen leaves that actually helps the soil it’s composted in) for our cocktail hour.

Our goody bags were recycled paper, and the invitations were printed on 30% recycled paper.

It’s worth mentioning that prices for invites doubled and soon tripled after the 30% mark of recycled material. The party favor of the night were bamboo flash drives, and the awards used for the honorees were partially recycled glass.

Both small touches created a beautiful continuity to the entirety of the event.

Finally, the centerpieces we used were potted plants, and since the honoree of the event, Michael Dowling, is the president of the North Shore LIJ Medical System, they were donated to hospital waiting rooms after the event. There’s nothing better than having your post event creation continue to brighten someone’s day!

No comments:

Post a Comment