Outdoor events are popular and fun, bringing people closer to nature while fostering a sense of community. Be it a large concert or a small get-together, there’s something special about celebrating under the open sky.
However, organizing such an event comes with significant environmental considerations. From high energy use to excessive waste production and potential damage to local ecosystems, outdoor events can leave a considerable ecological footprint.
Balancing your love for outdoor events with your commitment to sustainability might seem challenging. But it’s entirely possible and not as overwhelming as it might seem. As society becomes more environmentally conscious, there are more ways to minimize your impact on the planet, even during large-scale events.
Eliminate Single-Use Plastics
When it comes to outdoor events, single-use plastics are often the usual suspects of environmental harm. From disposable cutlery and plates to plastic cups and straws, these items can accumulate quickly and create a heap of non-biodegradable waste.
Plastic cups are frequently used at outdoor events and generate a large amount of plastic waste. Luckily, there are environmentally friendly substitutes available. Instead of disposable cups, customized can coolies can be used. These koozies are typically constructed from long-lasting fabrics such as neoprene and can be designed to match the event’s theme, giving them a special touch.
Other ways to reduce single-use plastics include providing reusable cutlery and plates or asking guests to bring their own. Not only do these solutions eliminate plastic waste, but they are also more cost-effective.
Avoid Paper Products
Though often seen as a better alternative to plastic, paper products still pose significant environmental challenges. They require trees to be cut down for production, use large amounts of water during manufacturing, and contribute to waste if not recycled correctly.
It’s common to see many paper products at outdoor events, from food containers to programs and gift bags. One effective way to minimize this is to replace paper gift bags with reusable custom totes. These help eliminate paper waste and provide a practical and stylish solution.
A few other solutions:
- Consider digital alternatives. For example, instead of printing paper programs, create an event website or app that contains all the necessary information.
- Use biodegradable or compostable food containers in place of plastic and paper cups. Go for post-consumer recycled paper products whenever possible.
By proactively looking for ways to reduce paper usage, hosts can create an environmentally-friendly outdoor event that looks great and does good.
Create a Greener Menu
When planning an outdoor event, the menu often plays a starring role. However, what you choose to serve profoundly impacts the planet. To create a greener menu, several factors come into play:
- Consider the sourcing of your food. Locally sourced ingredients reduce the carbon footprint of transporting food over long distances. Not only does this choice promote sustainability, but it also supports local farmers and businesses.
- Choosing organic food is another good option. Organic farming practices aim to enhance soil and water quality, reduce pollution, and promote a self-sustaining cycle of resources on farmland.
- Consider the type of food you’re serving. Plant-based meals have a smaller environmental footprint than meat-based dishes, as meat and dairy production typically requires more resources and produces higher emissions.
- Think about portion sizes and waste. Try to estimate portion sizes accurately, offer takeaway containers for leftovers, or arrange to donate surplus food to a local charity.
Creating a green menu might require more thought and planning but it can be rewarding.
Look for an Eco-friendly Venue
What should hosts look for when evaluating potential locations for their sustainability credentials? Several factors contribute to making a venue more environmentally friendly:
- A venue that prioritizes waste segregation and recycling demonstrates a commitment to sustainability. Even better if they actively participate in composting food waste or provide compostable containers.
- Check if they use energy-efficient appliances and lighting. LED lights, for instance, use up to 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Also, if it has facilities like restrooms or a kitchen, look for energy star appliances.
- Look for features like low-flow toilets and faucets in restrooms, rainwater harvesting systems, or native landscaping that requires less watering.
- Check whether the venue encourages or supports public transportation, carpooling, or adequate facilities for guests who prefer to cycle.
- Consider if the venue has green certifications. Certifications like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) indicate that a venue meets high standards for sustainability and has made tangible efforts to reduce its environmental impact.
This way, you can ensure you’re choosing a venue that aligns with your sustainability commitment.
Utilize Group Transportation
Every car that drives to your event emits greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. But there’s a simple and effective solution to this: group transportation. By arranging group transport, you can significantly reduce the number of vehicles needed, thus lowering the overall carbon emissions.
This could involve hiring buses or shuttle services from centralized pick-up points to bring guests to the venue. It also adds an element of convenience for your guests. They won’t need to worry about finding the location, parking, or choosing a designated driver.
For smaller events, you could also consider carpooling options. Provide a platform for guests to coordinate carpooling or partnering with a rideshare service. If the venue is in a location accessible by public transportation, encourage guests to use it. Better yet, choose a venue within walking or cycling distance for local attendees and provide adequate facilities like bike racks.
Find Ways to Lower your Energy Use
The environmental footprint of an outdoor event is significantly influenced by energy consumption, be it lighting, cooling, or heating systems. Nevertheless, there are clever, creative ways to minimize this energy use:
- Consider the cooling measures for your event. If it’s happening during warmer months, the first instinct might be to set up energy-intensive outdoor air coolers. However, a greener alternative exists: custom hand fans. These are eco-friendly and personalized souvenirs for your guests.
- For lighting, choose LED or solar-powered lights. LEDs use significantly less energy, and solar-powered options represent renewable energy.
- If your event needs sound and visual systems, ensure they’re energy-efficient models, and always remember to turn them off when not needed.
Consider sourcing power from renewable energy suppliers for larger events. Some companies provide solar or wind power generators for events, contributing a clean energy source that reduces reliance on traditional, often carbon-intensive power sources.
Follow Responsible Cleanup Procedures
The post-event cleanup is equally crucial, especially regarding responsible waste disposal and management. An effective way to encourage responsible disposal is by clearly indicating where and how different types of waste should be discarded. For example, you could use custom yard signs and stickers near disposal bins to highlight where recyclables, compostables, and general waste should go.
And if you anticipate a large amount of food waste, consider arranging a composting station or service. As for decorations, their disposal must also be considered. Non-biodegradable decorations might seem festive, but can be harmful to wildlife and difficult to clean up. Opt for reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable decor.
An outdoor event doesn’t have to leave an environmental mess behind. Following the tips outlined here, you can ensure your event is fun, safe, and eco-friendly.