5 Easy Ways to Make Your Event Eco-Friendly
Today I’m sharing 5 easy ways you can plan your wedding or event to be eco-friendly without compromising your style or vision. I don’t know about you, but when I start planning a special occasion my mind immediately goes to “How many people?”, “What type of food?”, and “What cute ideas on Pinterest have I found lately that I’d like to try?” This initial excitement and brainstorming phase happens for most people. In my event planning (and life) I’m intentionally trying to make a shift to become more environmentally conscious. I personally feel better, my friends, family, and clients feel better about the entire process and can enjoy the experience even more by knowing there was minimal environmental impact. That’s why I call eco-chic events “something truly cheers-worthy” because when you attend an environmentally conscious event that doesn’t produce a lot of excess waste, it makes you feel even better about going.
Before diving into the 5 ways to make events eco-friendly, I thought I’d take a moment to point out that this is now my second blog post writing about event planning and I have to say, I’m really enjoying it! It’s funny how Cheers Years started out as a simple food blog to document my recipes almost 11 months ago and every day it shapes into something a little more. It’s transforming into my home base website not just for my personal blog, but my business. I think it’s pretty appropriate to write about the two main passions of my life right now - food blogging AND event planning. I love that you can use a blog as an outlet to share deep thoughts and strategies but also just share a really cool recipe or restaurant. That’s the beauty of a blog, you’re able to write about whatever moves you that you want to share! Most of the time I’m obsessing about food, but I have such a passion for creating experiences that it just made sense for me to share more about my process, experiences, and learning. I was nervous about diversifying away from food, but writing about what you're doing just feels natural. So, without further ado, here goes more event planning posts!
5 easy ways to make your event eco-friendly
I know it can seem like just the act of hosting an event is bad for the environment. With any event, there will be gas emissions from transporting people, extra energy used on the lights, heating/air, and elements like audio visual within the event space. Not to mention the possibility of food waste and favors/goodie bags that may never be used and end up in a landfill. I’ve personally seen A LOT of waste associated with events. It broke my heart seeing TRUCKLOADS of waste being shoveled into the garbage after an event, including those expensive decorations and goods that they brought in for attendees to enjoy for an evening, then toss. I think we MUST to start thinking and planning events more environmentally conscious. With more and more events being held each year from weddings to corporate meetings, the environmental impact will also increase. However, we have a chance to turn around the planning process and put environment impact at the forefront of our process. I believe there are easy ways to plan an eco-friendly event that minimizes waste, reduces costs, but still produces a gorgeous and unforgettable occasion.
Here are my tips —
1 - Pick a central location for guests / attendees.
Where the event is to be held should be the number one thought for planning an eco-friendly event. As we know, burning fossil fuels isn’t good for the environment. If you can select a location for your event that is central to where most of your guests are traveling from, that can have a major impact on saving gas emissions. BONUS - it will also make your guests happy! Have you ever been sitting at a table at wedding or conference and overheard a conversation that was like this,
“How far did you have to travel to get here?”
“We drove 6 hours, what about you?”
“Oh, we live here!”
*glares across table* “Must be nice.”
Of course, there isn’t a way to make everyone’s travel equidistant, but it certainly helps if you can make it somewhat central. I also realize that this isn’t practical in every planning situation. A bride may have her heart set on having a coastal wedding or a company might always host their annual conference in the HQ city. I totally get it. However, IF you’d like to take a more proactive approach to eco-friendly event planning, location selection should be a number one consideration.
2 - Pick a venue that requires minimal decoration.
I’m all about rustic and industrial venues, but if your vision for the event would require a lot of decorations and floral help to capture the theme or style, then perhaps you should consider another space. More decor, lighting, and flowers create more waste after the event, and end up costing more money. Put in extra research to find venues that already match the event aesthetic you’re going for. During your venue search, walk into each space and mock the steps of your future event goers. Does it capture the right mood you’re going for? Does it have that “wow factor”? Do you smile when walking around? These are all questions to ask yourself when selecting a venue. This is by far your largest cost in hosting an event, so you want to make sure that you already like the space and it doesn’t require a large transformation before you feel good about having guests/attendees at the event. So, pick a venue that requires minimal decoration.
3 - Be smart about invites & marketing: Consolidate, use eco-friendly materials, or be bold and go paperless.
Alright, just trust me here. The first tip I have with invitations and event marketing materials are to consolidate! Do you really *need* both a paper save-the-date AND invitation with RSVP card? I’ve seen many couples use up to 7 various pieces of mailed paper for events like weddings. By the time you send a save-the-date, invite (including wedding info like directions), RSVP card, bridal shower invite, bachelorette invite, and “will you be my bridesmaid?” cards, that’s a LOT of paper. I totally understand if you’d like to send something in the mail to announce such a special occasion, but I would advise choosing the MOST important piece of information for the announcement to you. For most people, that’s the actual wedding (or event) invitation. There are a lot of great e-vite options for announcing your save-the-date, bridal shower, and bridesmaid/groomsmen invitation. You can even add an option for people to immediately add the event to their Google calendar - and we all live by our online calendars, right? I also like this option for RSVPing. How many times have you forgotten to mail back the RSVP to a wedding or lost the return envelope? I know I’m not the only one out there! List your custom wedding website on your invitation then ask guests to RSVP online, once again they can immediate add the event to their Google calendar so they have the date marked!
For the bold & modern individuals, you can opt for an entire paperless announcement, invitation, and RSVP process. If you choose to go paperless, this is something you should highlight right away when announcing your wedding plans. Post your paperless mission all over social media and your wedding website. You can come up with a cute way of announcing this and asking everyone to support your green planning. It’s important to let people know as soon as you make the decision, or else you may get calls from upset relatives asking “Why didn’t I receive a wedding invite?!” and nobody wants that awkward conversation.
A note on materials.
There are GORGEOUS wedding and special invitations that can be printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink. Check with your local printing shop to see what eco-friendly invitation options they offer first (remember, the less your materials have to travel, the better). If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, there are some amazing artists on Etsy that create wonderful eco-friendly invitations.
Make it chic.
Another option I love, which is totally eco-chic, is splurging on a local calligrapher to hand-write your invitations on recycled paper you purchased at your local shop or online. You can also ask your calligrapher to not only write your initial save-the-date or invite, but you can also do this for your place cards and menu as well. I think calligraphy always adds an extra touch of elegance.
One of the coolest things I’ve found for eco-friendly invitations is paper that’s biodegradable and actually grows plants like wildflowers and herbs from companies like Foreverfiances & Botanical Paper Works. Looking at their beautiful designs and realizing that you can actually plan the paper after enjoying the thrill of opening it in the mail. Come ON how awesome is that?!
Taking these small steps to re-think ideas for cutting back on paper or responsibly sourcing paper is a GREAT way to make your event eco-friendly.
4 - Match the time of your event to the “in” season your favorite foods, then source local & organic catering.
Let’s face it, there are few things that event guests and attendees remember about most events for years after the fact. Great food, however, is one of the things they won’t easily forget. I was so lucky to have amazing food catered by Homegrown out of Asheville, NC at my wedding. I still to this day have people tell me how much they enjoyed our food. Of course, your guests will remember how beautiful the bride was as well, but since they actively participate in the dining portion of an event, it’s something that makes a big impression.
The idea of matching your wedding or event date to the in season of your favorite food may seem odd at first, but it should click the more you think about this tip for an eco-friendly event. Try to pick a date within the in season of your favorite fruits and veggies, then source a caterer that uses local, organic items. For example, if you’re crazy about blueberries or a head-over-heels-pumpkin lover think of planning an event around the time of year they’ll be in season near your location. This will not only help your event be eco-friendlier but can also save you money as well! Use your trusty Google search and websites like Field To Plate to determine when your favorite foods you want to be served on the menu will be in-season near the venue.
5 - Rethink your guest favors or giveaway items.
This is a fun opportunity for you to creative! Guest favors and giveaway items should be something that’s special to you & your fiancé, or your organization. This is an opportunity to say thanks for coming to all those who attended, and it’s also an excellent way to make your event eco-friendly. I’m absolutely digging the tiny succulents as favors with meaningful messaging. I also love the plantable favors, similar to the invites, like these. I’ve also seen seed packet with personalized messages like these. As the saying goes, “it’s the gift that keeps on giving” when a tiny wedding favor can be planted for a flower or herb later. Now THAT’s a memorable way for someone to remember your special day. I also love these all-natural personalized cork coasters, or better yet, you could make your OWN. Now for those who don’t get into DIY projects, I totally get it, you’d rather have someone do it for you. This could be an excellent gift from a friend or family member to help you with this. You can do SO many cute things with wine corks. Why not save those bottles you go through during your planning and then make eco-friendly favors that are extra special to your guests? For more ideas on eco-friendly favors, check out my Pinterest board!
I hope these ideas helped inspire you to make some eco-friendly and chic changes to your wedding or next event! What are some ways that you’ve made your wedding or event eco-friendly? I’m always on the lookout for new inspiring ideas, so comment below and let me know!
For more inspiration on eco-friendly event planning and details, follow me on Pinterest!
Here’s to beautiful events that help keep the planet beautiful… Cheers!