With the constant emphasis on sustainability and becoming more eco-friendly, it is more important now so than ever to extend this notion into the workplace as frequently as possible. For CSI DMC we are looking to continue utilizing eco-friendly practices internally, but also extend our practice through our event services offered to clients.
Below are several categories with different examples and explanations of how to be more environmentally conscious when planning your next event.
When using signage for an event, if possible, keep it generic so that it can be easily used for future events. If you need to be specific, consider changing your usual materials to items such as chalkboards where you can easily erase what is written and used again. Further, add clear signage on waste bins and recycling bins during an event making it easy for clients to be eco-friendly, as not everyone knows what to do when it comes to recycling. Additionally, try using digital menus on a tablet that can be placed on each table to prevent excess paper waste.
When sourcing caterers we try to make sure food is organic and local. Not only does this benefit clients by being a healthier consumption option, but it also reduces our carbon footprint by using local growers in the process. We try to ensure minimal waste is created after events so if there is any leftover food we will work with the caterers and suppliers on how to best handle such leftovers whether that be by donating it or offering it to the hard-working staff. For example, in the past we have donated to Food Rescue, a wonderful organization that works to reduce food insecurity in the United States by transferring fresh and reusable food to insecure families. Also consider having guests pre-order their food preference so not to over order food for the event and thus create further waste.
Take a spin on your usual decor style or catering displays and hire living decor that allows the best of both worlds by offering entertainment while simultaneously visually enhancing a space. If you decide to use gorgeous fresh florals and plants, offer them as gifts or prizes to attendees at the end of the event or give them to local hospitals, shelters, hotels etc. to be used. Also, look into biodegradable decor! You can still have beautiful decorations throughout the event but with the added bonus that they won’t cause future harm to the environment! At CSI, we’ve used vendors in the DC area who utilize recycled materials to create lovely centerpieces!
When a client requests a well-lit venue, consider picking a space that has copious amounts of natural lighting to prevent having to purchase and use unnatural light sources. Such as numerous windows dispersed throughout the space, or glass ceiling detailing that allows light to shrine through..
Offer deluxe shuttles or rent locally to reduce costs as well as reduce your carbon footprint by limiting the amount of vehicles used that emit harmful substances. Consider using venues that are convenient and close to where guests are staying and suggest taking a nice evening stroll to and from the venue. Other options can include using bike share or rickshaw for additional amusement!
Go digital! If you can go paperless and offer similar features by being digital – why not?? These small notions can really make a difference. Suggested efforts include using an online registration platform, creating scannable e-ticket invitations, sending invites via email instead of mail etc. As well, If an event requires maps or event program details consider using apps to display this information so attendees have it at all times on their phones without misplacing paper materials.
Try using renewable energy sources at any possible stage in the production process. By using efficient system design and current technology you can cut power usage significantly. With the increasing importance of reusable energy this process is only going to become more emphasized in the future, but also more readily available and easy to implement. Other, more simple options include using LED lighting whenever possible.
Every time your client and you discuss the program, do you need to meet in person? Consider going virtual whenever possible to cut emissions, costs and to utilize your time more efficiently. Video chats work well too!
Make the most of your environment. Think about what venue would be best for your client while also considering the weather. Costs can be severely decreased when cutting out the need for AC or heat.
In the pre-planning process, discuss with your client their sustainability values, offer incentives such as freebies or digital swag if attendees then later contribute to the client’s eco-friendly practices.
Overall, be sure to make clients aware of your sustainable efforts, especially if you are increasing your actions and placing a higher focus on it than before. When planning any event try to pair with sustainable suppliers for example working with eco-friendly venues or sustainability focused vendors as well as ensuring whatever is left over can be used in an efficient and environmentally conscious manner moving forward.
As well as ensuring our events are executed with sustainable goals in mind, CSI also works hard internally to reduce our carbon footprint on a day to day basis. For marketing and promotional items we try to ensure that we are offering innovative gifts that can be used continuously, reused or re-purposed. For example, we recently started gifting reusable stainless steel straws, reusable silicone collapsible water bottles, and biodegradable plant pots with Forget Me Not flower seeds. These are just a few of the many items we love to regularly gift our clients and staff! Goodbye plastic! Other internal office efforts include recycling and going paperless whenever possible, whether that be using certain apps, softwares or websites, there is always a way. A lot of our team use Rocketbooks on a day to day basis.
As event planners, making clients aware of the impact we are making and the importance we place on creating a greener planet shows our values and hard work that we put forward to make a difference. Every little bit slowly adds up to make a meaningful and significant difference for the better, so make a difference too!