Who doesn’t love a fun get-together with family and friends? From the backyard barbecue to a birthday bash, most people are happy to find an excuse to plan an event. Unfortunately, as fun as big events might be, they can also be problematic for the environment.
Large-scale events like weddings are extremely wasteful. The average wedding produces 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. While hosting smaller events obviously has less of an impact, if you plan several of them throughout the year you might end up doing even more damage than a mid-sized wedding.
Nowadays, people want to be more eco-friendly. One survey found that 77% of individuals want to live more sustainably. The problem? Not everyone knows how to get started.
Thankfully, planning an eco-friendly event is easier than you might think. If you’re willing to make a few simple swaps and changes, you can ensure your guests will have fun while doing something that gives back to the planet, too.
Let’s cover a few helpful tips that will make planning eco-friendly events easier for you.
1. Go Local
We touched on the wastefulness of weddings above, but there are many things you can do when planning a big event like that to make a difference. Whether you’re planning a wedding or another large event, one of the best ways to do something good for the environment is to shop locally.
If you’re used to working with vendors or ordering things online, consider a different approach for your next event. Almost everything you’ll need can be purchased locally, including:
You might even be able to purchase clothing or gifts from a local craftsman or seamstress. Shop your local craft or farmers’ markets to see what you can find.
Shopping locally helps by limiting the CO2 emissions and energy waste from supply chains. The more you get your belongings from someone who lives in town, the less demand there will be for transportation of goods across the country.
If you can’t find everything you’re looking for locally, try to DIY as much as possible. Instead of hiring a caterer that will likely outsource ingredients, buy from your local store and cook the food for the event yourself. DIYing things might take more time and effort, but it’s one of the best ways to stay sustainable and focus on local items.
2. Practice Minimalism
Minimalism is becoming extremely popular nowadays. People are getting rid of their excess belongings in favor of living without so much chaos and clutter. There are many benefits to a minimalistic lifestyle, including:
- It’s easier to clean up
- It can improve your mental health
- You’ll spend less
- It’s more visually appealing
When you take a minimalistic approach to an event, all of the same benefits apply. Plus, it will cut down on the amount of waste you produce. You won’t have to put up as many decorations and you’ll achieve a cleaner, more sophisticated look. You can also choose not to give party favors, limit your guest list, ask for no gifts (if it’s a birthday, wedding, etc.), and have the event at your home or in a public park rather than renting out a big venue.
Not only will planning a minimalist event make you very “on-trend,” but you’ll be creating a sustainable environment for your guests that everyone can feel good about. Plus, both setting things up and cleaning up after the event will be even easier!
Speaking of which…
3. Be Conscious About Clean-Up
One of the drawbacks to hosting an event is having to clean up afterward. That might typically include tossing everything into a few trash bags and wiping down the tables. But, there’s no reason you can’t continue to be eco-friendly, even with your clean-up efforts.
Start by reducing as much waste as possible. Do you have untouched food left over from ordering or making too much? Donate it to your local food bank or homeless shelter. Or, send guests home with “doggy bags” and leftovers they can enjoy later.
Don’t just automatically throw everything away. Instead, be conscious about what goes in the garbage and what you can reuse or recycle. Set up bins or stations somewhere during your clean-up efforts to make it easier to remember what doesn’t have to be thrown away. If you had a lot of single-use plastic at the event (including water bottles), much of it can be recycled and given new life, instead of contributing to the 13 million tonnes of plastic that end up in the ocean each year.
Finally, make sure you’re using “green” cleaning products. Many traditional cleaning solutions contain harsh chemicals that can be hazardous to the environment. Look for products that contain natural ingredients or harmful chemicals. Eco-friendly cleaning products are less harsh on your skin, better for allergies, and will reduce pollutants in the air while you’re cleaning up.
There are so many additional things you can do to make your next event more eco-friendly. Keep these tips in mind and get creative with some of your own. When you make sustainable changes, you might inspire others to do the same. The more people who jump on board, the more the planet will benefit.