So many feel that because they’re just one person, it’s not possible to cause significant change when it comes to sustainability.  But, anyone hosting an event can make it more sustainable. A few small changes can snowball into a big difference.

 

What does it mean to be ‘sustainable’?

Firstly, let’s think about what it actually means to be more sustainable when it comes to events.  Aiming towards sustainability can mean a multitude of things, such as:

– reducing or eliminating actual throwaway waste

– adopting a reuse, repurpose, recycle approach

– considering food miles/manufacturing/transport costs

– embracing a mindset for long-term and wider community benefit

– avoiding plastic (especially single-use)

– finding eco-friendly and biodegradable alternatives

– mindful gifting (support local makers/businesses)

– sourcing produce locally

– rejecting excessiveness and role-modelling this to your guests (especially members of the younger generation)

You can choose to tackle any (or all) of these aspects for your event and, ideally, beyond the event itself.

 

Roadblocks to sustainability (all easily overcome!)

Roadblock One:  It costs more to hold a sustainable event.  In fact, it’s possible to save money by adopting sustainable approaches. 

Roadblock Two:   The beauty of the event is lost.  Your event can be beautiful in all kinds of ways – including contributing to preserving the beauty of our environment and in thinking beautifully about sustainably.

Roadblock Three:  Holding a sustainable event requires loads more effort.  We have solutions for that too!  It’s all in the planning and thinking long-term.

 

Sustainability trends and ideas we’re loving:

Food:

– reducing food waste and donating unused food

– ensuring food is ethically and sustainably-sourced

– greater connection to local producers/market suppliers

– growing awareness and support of vegetarian and vegan lifestyles

Weddings:

– entire weddings going plastic-free

– dried floral installations and bouquets

– dried flower petal confetti

– natural makeup and hair (using environmentally-friendly products and tying to a more organic aesthetic)

– using recycled vintage décor or items which have personal significance to the couple

Baby Showers:

– using baskets instead of wrapping paper for gift-giving

– using large wooden jigsaw puzzle pieces (the back side) for each guest to write a lovely   message to the mother-to-be

Image courtesy of JJ Style

 

Our tips for being more sustainable:

Tip 1:  Tackle the big offenders – plastic and paper – by removing or reducing their use:

– no plastic straws or glitter (if there’s just one thing you choose to do, please make it this)

– send invitations electronically – if it’s a very special event, such as a wedding, our pick is Paperless Post for super-lovely customisable free invitations (as well as some paid options) https://www.paperlesspost.com These still look just like ‘real’ invitations, but the great part is that you’re not using paper.  Of course, you all know about Facebook’s event invitations too.  One extra point on this – include a note about it being a low-waste event to onboard attendees from the outset.

– switch from plastic to paper plates or, better still, purchase a set of reusable bamboo plates or mismatched eclectic plates (raid your local op-shop or recycle centre).  I once snagged 50 identical white crockery plates for $50 from my local recycle centre and they’ve been used at numerous family events.  Ask yourself, depending on the event, does everyone need a plate?  If it’s an event with finger food, serve the food on reusable platters to save on individual plates (and washing up). 

– join forces with a group of friends or family and create a ‘shared’ party set of plates, cups, cutlery.  You’ll just need to keep the communication channels open to ensure you don’t plan on all using the set on the same date!

– lastly, you can make a little money back by taking any recyclable bottles used for the event to your local recycling station

Tip 2:  Party favours:

– use paper rather than plastic for packaging favours (this applies to any kind of packaging really!)

– for children’s party favours, substitute the sugar-laden lolly bags for a little succulent plant, a pouch of bird seed, a pack of chalk, or (if you’re up for it) homemade play dough

Tip 3:  Gift sustainably:

– ask guests to make a donation rather than bringing a gift

– gift an experience (eg a voucher for a cooking class or spa treatment, a double pass to the cinema, tickets to a comedy show – see www.goingzerowaste.com article ‘50 of the best experience gifts’ for other fabulous experience gifting ideas)

– organise a group gift – rather than everyone bringing one small gift, be that person to contact those on the invitation list and organise an amazing group present that you all know the recipient will love

– if you do opt for giving an actual gift, wrap it in reusable cloth, recyclable material (or not at all)

Tip 4:  Reduce/reuse/recycle decorations:

– make fabric bunting or a felt garland – in a plain colour (for versatility across events) or lace which can be reused indefinitely

– choose a cake topper which can be reused – either with the child’s name (not age-specific) or the occasion name (eg. happy birthday)

– repurpose old sheets/doona covers/quilts for bright and fun tablecloths and sitting areas

– if buying tablecovers, choose classic plain colours or patterns (eg. white, light stripes) which can work across events

– create reusable signage using a chalkboard

 

But don’t just take our word on all this!  Here’s what our event experts are saying…

As part of the research for this article, we reached out to a number of members from within our own community here at The One List with an invitation (electronic, of course!) to share their ideas, experiences and approaches to sustainability in the events space. 

While some might say that events cause large amounts of waste, we’d like to turn that thinking on its head by proposing that those in the event space are perfectly placed to take the lead on acting more sustainably.  And we’re seeing great evidence of ways event vendors are showing real leadership and initiative to be more environmentally aware.

 

JJ Style – Event Stylist, Coordinator and Hire

Q1. What are your top 3 tips for hosting a sustainable event?

Eco-friendly products (including biodegradable confetti); vegetarian and vegan food options. 

Q2. What would you say in response to the statement, ‘I’m only one person – how can I make a difference’?

By spreading a message to friends and family and leading by example.

Q3. What’s one great change you’ve seen in events recently?

We had a wedding recently, where the couple opted for a donation to their favourite charity instead of favours for the guests. It was therefore a donation on their behalf. This could be a great way to help an organisation that supports animals and is environmentally-conscious. 

Q4. What do you do in your own event business to be more sustainable/environmentally-conscious?

Everything we do now is paperless. We recycle everything, use eco-friendly products, whilst also trying to cut out the use of plastic and by using LED light bulbs when working with lighting.

Q5. What would you say in response to the statement, ‘But it costs more to hold an environmentally-conscious event’?

It will cost our environment more in the long run by not being environmentally-conscious. Running an environmentally friendly event and business can actually save you money, a few simple changes to how you deal with paper can involve your client and staff in environmentally friendly processes which will save everyone money. 

Contact JJ Style about your event here.

Image courtesy of Wine & Dine’m

Wine & Dine’m – Event Catering

Q1. What are your top 3 tips for hosting a sustainable event?

Sustainability is something we are incredibly passionate about at Wine & Dine’m Catering.
We always strive to firstly support local suppliers as not only does this reduce our events carbon footprint, but it also allows us to ensure we use the freshest ingredients from local farmers.
Our second tip is to use recycled materials wherever possible. For example our Express Catering orders are all delivered in eco-friendly recycled bark platter trays. We have also used other recycled materials that are outside the norm to display our canapes eg. retired surfboards and broken guitars. Not only does this give these items a second life, but it always has guests talking.
The third and final tip is to minimise food wastage by ensuring you are working with your caterer to cover your bases without over catering. Over 5 million tonnes of food end up in landfill each year and we as caterers believe this is unacceptable. This is why we work closely with our clients to prevent excess food wastage, and partner with the Mini-Farm Project to create urban and per-urban environments to positively impact environmental sustainability and support socially inclusive food systems.

Q2. What would you say in response to the statement, ‘I’m only one person – how can I make a difference?’

Simple changes have lasting impacts and each individual has the ability to inspire and educate those around them. Take your daily cup of coffee for example. By switching to reusable coffee cups instead of single use takeaways, you can save 365 cups ending up in landfill each year. Then take in to account anyone who sees your example and is inspired to make the same changes to their own consumption habits. It might not seem like a significant contribution at the time, but the impacts over a life time are exceptional.

Q3. What’s one great change you’ve seen in events recently?

Plastic-free catering has become an increasingly common request from our clients and one that we are always delighted to assist with. Companies and consumers are both becoming increasingly aware of their impacts on the environment and how they can implement small changes to make a big difference.

Q4. What do you do in your own event business to be more sustainable/environmentally-conscious?

Wine & Dine’m Catering have a series of sustainability initiatives and goals that we developed as a business to reduce our environmental impact and encourage a culture of waste reduction. These initiatives aim to recycle, reuse, repurpose and rethink our consumption habits.
In June 2018 we ceased supplying plastic straws at our events, functions and within our business. Plastic straws are incredibly harmful to the environment as they often end up in our oceans and harm our wildlife. We have also implemented a water filtration and dispensing system which allows us to deliver premium still or sparkling water for our events in recycled glass bottles. This eliminates 8,000 plastic bottles being discarded into landfill each year.

Q5. What would you say in response to the statement, ‘But it costs more to hold an environmentally-conscious event’?

Hosting environmentally-conscious events do not need to come with a greater cost. If you chose suppliers who already have a great sustainability policy, then the hard work is already done.

Any other information you’d like to provide on this topic?

As event caterers, we know first hand that creating sustainable events can be challenging but we are committed to continuing to improve on our current sustainability initiatives. Please contact our team for more information on how we can assist with catering your next sustainable event. 

Contact Wine & Dine’m about your event here.

Vintage washstand upcycled and repurposed as a drinks stations (image courtesy of Little White Chair)

Little White Chair – Rustic and Vintage Event Hire and Styling

Q1.  What are your top 3 tips for hosting a sustainable event?

Tip 1:  After the event, head to the Envirobank and recycle for cash at the local tip with all your plastic and glass bottles, aluminium cans and liquid paperboard drink holders.

Tip 2:  If you are giving a table gift or bonbonniere, a homemade edible treat is a good option. You cut down on packaging and delivery on an item that often gets left behind. It’s one of the things that makes me sigh on pack down day when I come back to find so many table gifts left behind.

Tip 3:  Rather than have everyone one arrive in separate cars, a bus company can ferry everyone to and from key location pick up points…and a much safer option at the end of the night for your guests.

Q2.  What would you say in response to the statement, ‘I’m only one person – how can I make a difference?’

Little things can make a big difference if we all practise them. New practices take time to reach a tipping point to where they are the new normal.

Q3.  What’s one great change you’ve seen in events recently?

Facebook groups give the opportunity to buy and sell items second-hand, which is so much better than just stuffing that box of mason jars into the corner of the garage only to be taken to the tip when you next have a clean out. There are even buy, swap and sell groups for brides. 

Q4.  What do you do in your own event business to be more sustainable/environmentally-conscious?

We love to repurpose items that have had a previous life.  One of my favourite items is an antique wash stand that was on its way to the tip. I hauled it off the back of a ute after asking if I could have it. We cut the basin hole a little larger to take a drop-in galvanised bucket for ice and drinks and gave it an encore career in our rustic bar set up. I also love our vintage china dinner ware.  Most of it looks out of place in modern homes and no one gives it a second look, but mismatched pretty vintage dinner plates take on a new charm when the tables are set for rustic country wedding.

We offer the opportunity to share a wedding weekend. If we are working at a venue that supports the idea, we offer the Sunday after a Saturday wedding.  It’s what we call a re-set wedding. It saves so much as couples have been able to split the cost of the venue, trucking costs and a cool room, even greenery, flower and candle budgets have been shared when theming allows. Not only does this save on costs but it’s less trucking, fuel and packaging.

Q5.  What would you say in response to the statement, ‘But it costs more to hold an environmentally-conscious event’?

Then you’re probably doing it wrongly. It generally takes more effort than cost; it takes more effort to wash up, than toss out disposable drinkware and plates, but it’s worth it.

Contact Little White Chair about your event here.

Beautiful mismatched vintage plates for a sustainable wedding (image courtesy of Little White Chair)

Here’s to each and every small act we can take towards creating more sustainable events!

 

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