1. Minimize or get rid of stationery
While stationery can be a wonderful way to announce your celebration, oftentimes, its purpose ends as soon as your event draws to a close (if not before it even starts). To eliminate waste and excess, ditch all paper products and go digital. Electronic save-the-dates, menus and programs are not only more convenient, they’re also budget-friendly. “Create one sign for display, or better yet, use our projector,” Flora’s experts say. “If you’d like guests to take home information, avoid paper handouts and post a website or a QR code. Guests can take a picture with their phones and revisit the info at home.”
2. Ditch the plastic
It’s tempting to opt for one-and-done foodware when you’re hosting an event; they’re affordable, hygienic, and sturdy. However, plastic is one of the top pollutants littering lands and oceans. To put things into perspective, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 400 million tons of plastic waste is produced annually. So, before you reach for disposable tabletop items, remember that there are so many stand-ins to plastic that are just as convenient. Flatware made out of bamboo, mycelium (mushroom) foam, sugar cane fibers, and reed pulp are all biodegradable. Another option? “Renting reusable plates, cups and silverware,” Flora’s experts say. “This is the best way to reduce waste.”
3. Source locally made items and food
You might be wondering: Does buying locally produced items actually make a difference? The environmental impacts of shopping from your local community aren’t immediately obvious, but they’re significant nevertheless. Transportation is responsible for a large portion of global greenhouse gas emissions. Buying products from vendors that are physically closer to you can help reduce that carbon footprint. What’s more, when it comes to food, locally grown produce is far less likely to be laced with chemicals, preservatives, and toxins that are typically used to prevent them from rotting before reaching the grocery stores.
4. Repurpose your florals and decor
Think your floral pieces have fulfilled their destiny once your wedding ceremony is over? Think again! “Ceremony florals can be repurposed to be centerpieces for the dinner tables,” Flora’s experts say. “They can also be used to decorate the sweetheart table.” You can also press, preserve, and turn your floral arrangements into keepsakes like flower petal jewelry, ornaments, coasters, wall decor, and even candle holders. (Alternatively, try to reach out to a non-profit company that can deliver your florals to a hospital or nursing home!) If you’re purchasing decor items instead of renting, consider how they might fit into your home. This might take a little more pre-planning; a lot of event planners recommend pairing your color scheme with your home’s for an easy transition.
5. Gift eco-friendly goodie bags and favors
One great way to spread the word about sustainable practices: Offer your guests a bag full of eco-friendly goodies they can take home with them. Think: plantable thank-you cards, mini potted herbs, handmade soaps, and sustainably sourced, fair trade coffee. Introduce your guests to local vendors by gifting them organic preserves from your farmers market, or nudge them to adopt zero-waste practices by presenting them with metal straws, spoons (or cocktail spoon straws!), and stainless steel reusable water bottles. Best of all, you can tuck everything into eco-friendly tote bags your guests can make good use of on their next trip to the grocery store.
6. Set up recycling bins
There’s no dancing around it; whether it’s a wedding reception or a baby shower, any event will likely result in substantial amounts of waste. Make recycling easier by setting up bins for both your vendors and your guests to use, or ask your venue of choice if they have any recycling programs in place. Make sure these receptacles are clearly labeled. As a non-profit that champions proper recycling practices, Recycle Across America can create standardized labels that meet your municipality’s specific recycling needs.
7. Find greener ways to get there
As mentioned earlier, hopping in your car and getting on the road has a bigger impact on the environment than you might think. If you’re bringing a large group of people together – whether for a wedding, a corporate event, or a team-building workshop – try to book stays near your venue of choice or within easy access of public transportation. “We recommend local hotels that are walking distance from Flora,” experts at Flora say. “We are also located near public transportation downtown and always promote using the Free Ride Everywhere Downtown (FRED) shuttle program to help reduce driving.” (Psst: Read about all of the accommodation and transportation options near Flora in this blog post.)
8. Plan an eco-friendly activity
There’s no better way to promote environmental awareness than by giving back to your local community. Gathering for a team-building weekend? Plan an eco-friendly activity, like a clothing donation drive, a river or beach cleanup, or a beautification project. “Start the day by collecting trash and litter, and then come to Flora for brunch and drinks,” Flora’s experts suggest. “Or start at Flora, and break out into a beach cleanup activity.” You can also sign your group up for environmental volunteering and partner with sustainable vendors.
9. Pick the right venue
Most importantly, make sure to pick a venue and a locale that’s compassionate toward Mother Nature. Flora’s venue comes furnished, which reduces the need for purchasing one-day-use decor items. It’s also equipped with LED lighting with motion sensors (which helps lower electricity consumption) and projectors that make digital announcements and seating charts a breeze. Flora’s bar program also boasts sustainably farmed and produced labels and compostable cups, doing away with bottled water and plastic straws. “With every event, we encourage clients to be as eco-friendly as possible, depending on their vision,” Flora’s experts say.