As a budding green event planner, I've benefitted from attending / speaking with current green event planners that have paved the way. Some events addressed every element down to the types of soy based inks they used when printing. Other events didn't even consider putting out a recycling bin for guests. The following list outlines considerations when throwing an event that is 'green'. Please add comments / ideas so collectively we can make a robust list of tips and ideas.

Things to consider if throwing a green event
* Recycle: It is a small gesture, but mandatory to include at a green event. Even if the event venue doesn't provide recycling services, put out several bins (clearly marked) for paper, plastic and glass. After the event, visit the City's website to see what your closest recycling location is.

* Minimize printing: At the event, encourage exhibitors to take guests' information and email them PDFs with more in depth information after the event. Not only does it cut down on paper waste, but it also can be an effective tool for lead generation.

Also avoid having one-time use paper signs on tables. Many of which can be replaced with multi-use signs made of sturdy materials. If you do have to print out flyers or anything on paper for your event, even at Staples there are options for recycled paper. If you need a commercial printing job done, several local printers offer a wide array of recycled paper and soy based inks for printing projects.

* Name tags: I haven't quite wrapped my brain around the best way to do nametags. The best I've determined is to purchase plastic nametag holders and print names on recycled paper. As guests are leaving the event, have a bin near the exit asking guests to recycle their nametags for our future events.

* Cups: At a local advertising agency's open house at the beginning of this year, a tour was provided of their LEED certified building. While touring the facility, there were signs touting green practices everywhere the eye could see. In the kitchen I read signs highlighting how the agency only uses mugs / glasses for water so they don't waste. Then I realized that the catering company for the event provided us with one-time use plastic cups.

Be consisent, and be thoughtful. I like these cups because not only are they compostable, but they let your guests know how they are made w/ writing on the side. They are also compostable.

* Food choice: I'm a pescatarian (vegetarian that eats fish), so I have a bias and sensitivity towards food at events (because usually I can't eat any of it). Typicallyl, I'm the odd woman out at a catered business lunch at a hotel, left picking things out of cobb salads and eating sides of green beans.

I'm not suggesting for an event that serving vegetarian food is necessary, but consider where you food came from, how it was transported, is it local?, is it organic?, etc. Recently I've been looking for a catering company locally that focuses on organic / local dishes, and haven't found one yet that touts that experience (business opportunity?). It is however borderline questionable to serve fried chicken in a one-time use aluminum container at a green open house (local agency referenced above was guilty of this as well).

* Promo items: As a marketing professional with a background in search engine marketing, you would think I could effectively navigate Google to track down an eco-friendly promotional item company within a few tries. Not the case. The items out there have thick marketing language leaving event planners scratching our heads.

I'd imagine the best promo item is no promo item since most of these items end up being thrown away. If you are determined to present your guests with a gift, possibly a tree sapling might be a thoughtful gift. I've also seen on a few promotional sites recycled paper cut to particular shape (like a dove / flower) that has seeds in the paper (I've also heard often guests don't know what it is or what to do with it). Another option, impress your guests by offering carbon offsets to account for the travel they incurred to attend your event.


These are just a few green event planning ideas. Please post your comments to make this a robust reference list for green events so we can all do a more thoughtful and effective job at planning events.

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Tags: events, green, planner, sustainability

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