As weather is heating up, I’m reminded of one of my favorite guest pampering tips, the “Refresher Station”. Upon arrival, guests love to be made comfortable, and I think it’s always a great idea to offer fruit-infused ice water and maybe a house-made lemonade before the ceremony. Because many guests have traveled a distance to get to the event, and this easy DIY water station will help to cool them off before they are seated.
If you don’t have the budget to have it maned by a bartender, place mason jars out with hanging tags so guests can write their names and hold onto their water glass for the night. Don’t forget to get a wooden crate, or wine box to lift the water jugs off the table in a stylish way. It’s important to raise the spouts up far enough off the table to make it easy for the glasses to fit underneath. Handmade chalkboard signs are a great way to finish off the look.
Every city loves community spirit, and San Antonio is no stranger to street celebrations with the spring and summer Fiesta’s that bring thousands of participants. But along with the people, comes trash…roughly 80 to 100 tons of trash collected from it’s two biggest parades alone. This is why the city adopted a new “Don’t Trash Fiesta” recycling initiative!
Like any good green-minded organization, the City Council put on it’s green cap and passed a new law requiring city events attended by more than 1,000 people, must get Green Event Certification. In past years, about 7 tons of recyclables have been collected at “green” Fiesta’s.
As part of the green event initiative, event volunteers will enroll the support of parade-goers to help collect recyclables. Officials are urging Fiesta participants to designate one person in their group as the designated recycler (kinda like the designated driver). The city will help collection by providing yellow mesh bags to the “green guru” in the group.
Once the event is over, the bags full of recylables, can be handed to an event volunteer.
What a great idea, and a great way to enroll the audience to support green event initiatives!
What is the most effective way to let event attendees know the special event is green?
Great question, and one of my current favorite’s to help clients produce! Recently I commented to Teresa’s blog post on a wedding invitation she recieved and her concern over the sustainability of the food on the menu she had to pick from– beef, fish or vegetatrian. Her post is a great example of a guest that have sustainable values, and wants to know you’ve considered the future of the planet in the poduction of your special event.
So, to get the conversation rolling that you are having a green special event start with the invitation– the first point of contact. Be sure to include that is is printed on recycled paper, or has plantable seeeds embedded. Guests will be looking for this information– I’m telling you!
Next, if you are serving an organic and seasonal feast, let them know — “We’re proud to serve you a variety of seasonal and local organic foods at our special event…”. And because fish populations are dying around the world do to over fishing, let your guests know you and your caterer are serving sustainably sourced seafood! It will give everyone some peace of mind when making their selections.
Next, post it on your web site. Be sure to include a section of your site that lists your commitments to greening your special event. Consider linking to local resources for more information or to nonprofit organizations that inspire you to care for the planet. It’s important to engage your guests in who you are and what you care about!
Next, include in your program some language that you have greened your event. I like to have a heading that says “Greening Graduation” — if it’s a graduation I’m producing. You should include any sustainable vendor names that you feel deserve recognition, and list all the ways you integrated organic, local, seasonal, and carbon offsets in to your event.
Next, if you are having a program of some sort, or at the wedding reception, consider making a public announcement — “To showcase our values for the future of the planet we’ve created an event that is zero waste, has a low carbon impact, and is water conscious….”. Encourage guests to do that same at their next event and through out their lives– this is where your thoughtful “green favor” will come in handy!
Finally, display a plaque at your buffet or at your check-in table. Show all your guests that this is something meaningful to you and important by displaying it in the open. It is amazing how many people read these plaques and have side conversations on how cool it is…I’ve seen it, many times!
Have fun sharing your values and commitments to a healthy and vibrant future we all desire! Let me know if you’ve done something you thought was unique others should try.
I understand that corporate events are often challenging when it comes to “ooo’ing” and “ahhh’ing” the guests (partly because they are used to attending events), but when I read the recent online newsletter for Special Events Magazine, I couldn’t resist posting my response to showcase why green events matter.
The highlighted event, the BASF Pack.it meeting, featured a building that was literally wrapped entirly in plastic wrap! The idea was to use “packaging” as a theme and to artistically express that throughout the event because the client, BASF, produces plastic for packaging. It’s a fun idea to want to wrap a building in plastic for sure…they even went as far as wrapping the surrounding trees as well (symbolism anyone?)…but I can’t help ask isn’t it a bit of a waste? — did anyone think about the wasted resources (plastic is made from precious, non-renewable oil) and where it would all go after the event?
Not only did they wrap 13,000 square feet of the building and the trees to showcase the “power of packaging,” but they also served a 10-course meal in individual wrapped dishes with their own “distinctive packaging.” (A green event no no!) Impressive as it must have been to be surrounded in packaging, I can’t stop myself from having a reaction here. WOW! It seems like the underlying message was “produce lots of plastic packaging.” Is that really what consumers want?
Packaging is a major player in the dilemmaâ€™s we’re now facing in keeping a sustainable planet, one that works with nature, not against it. Think about itâ€¦how often are you confident that your plastic packaging is getting recycled, or how often do you even know what plastic packaging is recyclable? I know I’m confused a lot, and I live in Ecotopia (Northern California).
Wal-Mart is even behind an initiative to reduce packaing. They are forcing all their suppliers to follow a Packaging Scorecard so as to reduce the amount of weight in trucking and emissions in the air. In fact, in 1991 Germany instituted the Green Dot System, specifically targeting reducing packaging waste by making it all recyclableâ€”well designed packages got a green dot. (It’s funny then that this event took place in Ludwigshafen, Germany, where BASF is headquartered.)
Though the article didn’t say explicitly what happened to all this packaging after the event, I’m left concerned. Special events are meant to be impressive and inspiring, but without conscious thought to the end-of-life of a lot of the products used in producing large scale special events, they can be extremely wasteful. This is why Iâ€™m dedicated to inspiring a â€œsustainableâ€ transformation within this industry, and why I believe green events need to happen!
With summer upon us, I’m planning on hosting a lot of BBQ picnics. What suggestions do you have to make it a family and earth-friendly day?
BBQ picnics are a great way to gather friends and family for a great time, but many people are unaware of the environmental tolls these events have on our planet. The thousands of paper plates, plastic forks and vinyl table cloths that get trashed each year is a huge waste of resources and takes itâ€™s toll, unnecessarily, filling landfills. Here are some things to consider when planning your special event this summer:
- One of the most important things you can do is stay away from charcoal lighter fluid. It is full of volatile organic compounds (VOCâ€™s) that evaporate into the charcoal and help get it started. But then when you cook your food over it those toxins go into the food and then eventually into your body. This causes health problems, especially in children, but when the VOCâ€™s escape into the atmosphere they become one of the primary contributors to the creation of ozone, trapping heat in our atmosphere, aiding in global warming. Instead consider a charcoal chimney, which uses newspaper to heat your coals instead of lighter fluid. And of course propane BBQâ€™s are a better way to go as well.
- Eat organic, and when you canâ€™t, buy local! This reduces the amount of pollution causing pesticides and promotes healthy soils and agricultural practices, and reduces pollution caused by shipping your food from locations far from your home.
- Eliminate paper napkins, plastic garbage bags, cups and cutlery. Cloth tablecloths, silverware, and glasses always add a touch of class to your event, and can be taken home and washed â€“ always the more environmentally responsible choice. But if you must go with disposable, why not consider purchase biodegradable bags, plates, cups and cutlery made from cornstarch and can be composted after your picnic. These new eco-innovations can be purchased online at GreenHome.com and the price is coming down all the time!
- Keep the bugs away with non-toxic insect repellants this summer. Toxic repellants have endocrine disrupters and powerful chemicals which have long term effects in the human body. Choose new improved natural repellants that donâ€™t make you sick, or harm your body like Orange Guard, or
Whether you BBQ just over a holiday weekend or at anytime of the year, these tips are universal. And if you feel you just can’t get to all of this, just bringing an environmental awareness to your event by not over purchasing and keeping waste of resources to a minimum will contribute a lot. Just donâ€™t forget to enjoy your green event and your summer!
Everyone wants to know just what is a “green” event when I tell them about Vibrant Events. So here’s the basics.
As curbside recycling, organic produce, and Earth Day go mainstream, many people are looking for new opportunities to help the environment and stop the effects of global warming. What better place to celebrate a greener lifestyle than with the hundreds of special events we host, attend or help plan each year in our homes, churches, local parks, or reception halls. Events offer us a great place to practice making those better choices that directly impact natural resources and promote a healthier lifestyle for ourselves and our families.
But what exactly is a green event? A green event considers the environmental and human health effects of the products and services that go into creating it. It means making choices that are â€œenvironmentally friendlyâ€ – using products that are reusable, recyclable, non-toxic, energy efficient, and made from natural or recycled materials. Three years ago this was a lot harder than it is today. Eco-innovative solutions to party planning have finally hit the shelves, and all it takes is a little thinking ahead to make your event planet friendly. My favorite party products on the market today can be found at Green Home.com, and shipped to you within ten days. The biodegradable cutlery is a must have!
As a green event planner, my goal is to make each event as Zero Waste as possible. I put out recycling bins and place signs that are easily understood and seen by guests, and when I can, Iâ€™m thrilled to include composting food waste from the event. To cut down on energy and water use I recommend placing pretty signs in the bathroom to remind guests to conserve those resources by keeping their hand washing to a minimum.
Green party planners can also offset the carbon emissions from the energy used at the party or from the guests traveling to the event. DriveNeutral offers a wonderful event calculator that allows you to buy offset credits right from your desktop! I was surprised at how reasonable the prices were when a client recently offset his wedding emissions as a gift to all the guestsâ€”a well received, unique gift, which was equally thoughtful!
Treat your guests to a green event next time, and show them that your attention to their comfort and the health of the planet are important to you!