How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Event ft. Yonder Collective
Making sure your event is as eco-friendly as possible might not be at the top of your list if you're an events planner or simply hosting an event yourself. At the top of your checklist list you've probably got 'amazing decor and food,' 'inspiring space' and 'unique experience' as your must-haves. I totally understand. However, what if you could ensure your guests experienced something completely unique and inspiring and have it not cost the planet at the same time? The benefits of planning an event with 'eco-friendly' or 'resourceful' as your mantra not only minimises the environmental impact of your event but will likely save you money, and guarantee you an event that is more unique than another too. So here you have it, your guide as to how to plan an eco-friendly event...
1. Resource Decor & Styling Items from Charity Shops or your Neighbours!
We all want the event we host to be beautiful; fortunately beautiful doesn't have to mean styling items and decor are expensive and sourced from high-end or chain shops. With a little time and a good eye you can source beautiful props, from vases to glasses or themed pieces, from your local charity shop. Not only will you be contributing to a great cause and not buying into the consumer market but you'll save money and have styled your event in a completely unique way. Other options for resourcing your styling pieces (especially bigger items if relevant) include Freecycle, Gumtree or even by borrowing items from neighbours you never knew you had using the brilliant Streetbank site.
2. Forage for your florals or greenery
I'm sure all of you love to use flowers to make your event brighter and more beautiful- rightly so- but sadly the majority of flowers we buy are far from local. 90% of blooms bought in the UK are imported, many from Holland and South America. Transporting your blooms that far has an obvious environmental cost but it has a social one too. Certainly in the case of Colombia where women working on flower farms are subject to poor pay, long hours (we're talking 16 hour days), resulting health problems and other labour abuses. So get outside for your greenery! Not only is it good for you and likely to help you de-stress in the run up to your event, foraging for greenery and natural colour to add to your event will help make it more eco-friendly.
If you do choose to forage for natural elements to incorporate into your event make sure you follow the foraging guidelines. If you don't have time to forage, or what you can find in the wild doesn't quite suit what you are looking for, research local florists growing local flowers - there are a growing number of excellent companies in Britain!
3. Source Food Locally & Use all of It
Being conscientious of where you source your food can seriously impact the footprint of your eco-friendly event. Choosing to buy locally, from the baker down the road or the organic farm over the hill, reduces the distance your food has traveled and thus the carbon footprint of your event. Not only that but choosing to buy this way, and organically if possibly, has benefits for you and your guests nutritionally. I'm sure you are thinking - this sounds expensive! Your right - it probably will be more expensive than grabbing your loot from your local cash and carry- it should be, it's better made! But don't let this put you off. Following the other resourceful tips in this guide to planning your own eco-friendly event, you'll find you've saved a lot of money.
Not only in creating an eco-friendly event does it pay to be conscientious of where you source your food, but also of how you use it. If you are using meat, use the bones for stock and even consider using more unusual parts of the body for a unique food experience. If you are planning a vegetarian menu (which has a lower environmental cost in itself so is always my choice) use parts of the plant or vegetable you wouldn't usually - like carrot or beetroot tops. You could even forage for your greens!
4. Go Plastic Free
The reasons plastic isn't great are numerable - it's toxic, damages wildlife and doesn't break down - EVER (for starters). For that reason, avoiding plastic when putting together an eco-friendly event is recommendable. Practically, what that means is sourcing your food in bulk and fresh, choosing lasting objects to serve your guests with and not disposables or one-use items.
5. Collaborate with others
Collaborating with others is an amazing way to make your event more eco-friendly. You'd be surprised at how many people are willing to freely give their skill or exhange/trade for it. People like helping people! As an example, could someone illustrate the invitations for you in exchange for a ticket or a favour in kind? Do you know someone who would offer their space in exchange for you and all your guests spreading the good news about how awesome it is? Think creatively and be brave in approaching people. You could save yourself on unnecessary costs and extra resources by simply asking.
6. Provide a platform for guests to share transport
If everyone travels to your event in their own car, the carbon footprint of your event will be greater than if people share transport, walk or cycle. You could provide a platform for guests to car share using an organisation tool like Doodle for example. You could even make the eco-friendly transport to your event part of the event itself! How about providing a meeting place for guests to journey on foot or bike to the event venue together? The guests that choose this option could be rewarded with a discounted ticket price (if it is ticketed) or at least a high-five!
7. Compost any food waste
If you have any food leftover from your eco-friendly event, make sure it doesn't end up wasted by going to landfill and compost it instead. There are lots of different ways you can compost but you could start by collecting any waste from your event and freezing it so it doesn't begin rotting and smelling in your home. From here, investigate the composting method that works for you and watch your waste turn in to something nourishing for the earth. My good friend Celia has compiled a few different ways to compost over on her blog.
8. Inspire your Guests
One of the best ways to ensure your event is eco-friendly is to truly inspire those that come to live a more eco-friendly life. The domino effect! Whether its done subtlety through the creativity you used in bringing together your eco-friendly event, through physical and visual tools at the event itself or through conversation. Encourage and inspire others that a more eco-friendly way of living is not only doable but wholly beneficial to them and the planet.
This is by no means an exhaustive list so please do share any ideas you have for planning an eco-friendly event in the comments below so we can get better at this eco-friendly living thing together!
If you don't know them yet, Yonder Collective is an events company based in Bristol, UK. 'Events company' doesn't quite cut it though. Yonder are about bringing people together in an inspiring space, around beautiful food and with talks that stir the imagination, in the hope of growing authentic community and collaboration among creatives and entrepreneurs. You can join the Yonder community here and learn more about them here.
The images in this post were taken by the brilliant Tuhi Photography at an event hosted recently by Yonder Collective and myself in Durban, South Africa. The event was planned with the theme of 'Resourceful' as its guide, meaning that every element was created through the lens of repurposing, redefining, reusing and reshaping the resources we already had around us.
The 'Resourceful' event was hosted in collaboration with the brilliant:
+ Renegade Kitchen - Food
+ Noble Coffee - Venue
+ Paige Bates - Illustrator
+ Distillery 031 - Gin