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7 Tips on how to make your event more sustainable by Katherine Hudson, Events Director and Founder of The Arabian Tent Company...
Events can generate a lot of waste. The world of weddings and events are major culprits in landfill and CO2. Single-use plastic is rife in the events industry. But just because your event is for one night only, it doesn't mean that what you use should be. It's perfectly possible to make a few small tweaks to maximise the eco-clout of your event – and you will be setting a good example to your guests. There are so many ways to reduce waste and to make your day more sustainable without compromising on style. Low waste and eco-friendly does not have to mean low key. Planning with sustainability in mind is crucial as the planet faces such immense environmental challenges.
Single-Use PlasticCutlery and dinner wear can be hired. Some companies will take it away dirty. Aside from the environmental impact, eating from a proper plate with real cutlery enhances your enjoyment of the dining experience. For events where food trucks are providing the meal, insist on biodegradable plates and cutlery. Wooden or banana leaf plates add to the rustic feel and are much better quality than hideous white plastic. Unnecessary plastic straws have been phased out of most events. Paper straws look far chicer and have a vintage feel. Bio-cups are easy to source. You could even encourage sustainable behaviour – for example asking guests to bring a cup. There is no longer any excuse for single-use plastic.
Using real foliage foraged from the surrounding area and hiring plants is a greener way to decorate your event than buying in cut flowers. The cut-flower industry is a short-cycle production process that requires the use of agrochemicals which adversely affect soil, air and the water supply. The carbon footprint to import flowers is profound. Consider options like bunting or flower fairy lights – or even some well-chosen artificial flowers – which are of course reusable. Hiring good quality furniture means it is reused.
If you are hiring a venue, you may not have much control over this. But if you're using a generator, replace the petrol or diesel options for a bio-fuel, battery or solar-powered generator. LED festoons and up-lights are available and are much more energy-efficient. The LED lighting is incredibly versatile and can help create a variety of looks and atmospheres. Tea lights in jars make beautiful night lights.
4) Venue and Suppliers
Choose a venue that is close to the highest proportion of your guests – or close to public transport. If needed, set up group transportation by hiring a coach. Where possible, select a venue with environmental policy in place. Larger venues use more power so choose a venue that is appropriately sized for your event. Use suppliers that are local with products that haven't travelled across the globe to be there.
5) Food and Drink
Catering your event? Choose a local caterer who specialises in local produce. Choose organic, locally produced food and minimise waste by catering to precise numbers. Use food that can be reheated for another meal rather than one-off meals. Excess leftovers? Donate it so it can be repurposed for a food bank. Go veggie. This choice will drastically reduce carbon emissions. Request that condiments are served in bulk, not in single-use sachets. Explore carbon-neutral and organic drinks in glass bottles – there are numerous organic and local wines and plentiful breweries in the UK to buy barrels or kegs. Don't buy bottled water – provide a water point for your guests with glasses.
6) Projections Not Prints
Signs, banners and logos look amazing projected onto almost any surface - including buildings and even trees. This eliminates the cost of producing one-off designs which may not be reused. And it will look far more modern and dynamic than a clunky PVC banner.
7) The Clean Up
Prepare to compost and organic and compostable material. Be ready with the correct bags and recycle everything possible. You can make it easy by placing labelled recycling bins conveniently during the event. Prepare and plan for the waste produced in every aspect of your event. Choose cleaning products that are eco-friendly and biologically safe. Consider whether 'goodie bags' containing small throwaway trinkets are really necessary. Donate, reuse or give away any perishable leftovers – this goes for flowers and plants as well as food and drink.
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