As a party organizer or event planner you need to be ready to comply with all manners of requests from clients and guests. Today we are seeing the continued popularity of staging a “green" or eco-friendly event that shows the host's committed to being environmentally conscious during any type of occasion. Caring about the environment is nothing new, and there are very simple steps you can take to satisfy your clients’ desires for an eco-friendly wedding reception, conference, office party, reunion, and more. Here at Napkins.com, we have some wonderful eco-friendly disposable tableware
and suggestions that will help keep your carbon footprint to a minimum, satisfy customers, and still allow you to pull off a classy, tastful, successful event.
The mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle" is actually quite easy to follow when it applies to party planning. Look at all the important aspects of the celebration—location, food, drinks, decorations, and tableware. For a “green" event, think local and organic. There will be situations where you also have to approach things smartly depending on the number of guests, season, type of event, etc. Remember that actually making an effort to think about your effect on the environment is better that not caring at all.
The following suggestions can be modified to fit your event, the customer's budget, or purpose for the gathering. With an emphasis on taking care of the environment and sustainable practices and products, your eco-friendly event will be the talk of the town.
- Location: Choosing and using a natural, outdoor setting is a great way to honor the environment and conserve energy. Natural surroundings come with their own decor so you may only need to add simple pops of color, centerpieces, and decorations to complement the setting. Daylight is cheap and the perfect way to make an outdoor event shine. If needed, plan on providing covered areas or umbrellas so guests can stay out of strong sunshine. If the celebration is held outdoors at night, consider strings of cool LED lights that will add a twinkle and romance to the atmosphere. To limit the negative impact on the environment, try to hold a ceremony and reception in the same place so guests do not have to drive anywhere, thereby reducing carbon emission. Candles make wonderful accents on tables, but choose soy-based products because they are a renewable resource and they have a cleaner, longer burn. For indoor venues, check to see if lights can be turned down, doors can be opened for fresh air, and if surfaces can be cleaned with non-toxic, environmentally safe products.
- Foods: For an eco-friendly party menu think local and try to purchase fresh produce from neighboring farmer's markets and vendors. This way, the food will taste better and possibly be sold at a better price. Depending on the time of year, look for seasonal fruits and vegetables and create a menu around those foods. Purchase baked goods and sweets from nearby bakeries. Meat markets might have meat from grass-fed animals and fresh farm eggs. Serve locally brewed beers, wines, and cheeses. By purchasing products made nearby, you have saved shipping costs and fuel used for shipping. Think about serving boneless meats so there will not be as much food waste. Serving finger foods usually means guests only consume what they want and do not throw away as much. And in the spirit of not wasting any food, send guests home with leftovers in our eco-friendly takeout containers. For really large occasions, team up with a food bank in advance so you can donate any leftovers.
- Drinks and cocktails: Always serve water, but stay away from using water bottled in plastic containers. If you must have water bottles, use recyclable glass ones. Better yet, serve water from pitchers or drink dispensers and freeze chunks of seasonal fruit to use as ice cubes. Sodas served in aluminum cans are fine because the cans are recyclable. Choose organic coffees and teas, and check for coffee varieties that are shade-grown to support biodiversity. Again, locally produced wines and beers are more cost effective. Mix cocktails with seasonal fruits. For recycling bottles and cans, make sure to have attractive looking, clearly marked recycling containers next to trash receptacles.
- Decorations: Local flowers and plants are the best for fresh floral arrangements and centerpieces. Think beyond just flowers and collect items from nature for accents—shells, twigs, grasses, rocks, seeds, trees cones, even garden vegetables. Get creative with nature. One of our favorite centerpiece ideas is to take simple potted plants, herbs, or flowers and arrange them down the middle of tables or around the venue. When the celebration is over, invite guests to take a pot home to enjoy or replant. Another eco-friendly decoration is candy that is bright,colorful, and arranged in bowls or containers on tables. Edible decorations are eaten or taken home and produce little waste. Some centerpieces can be saved, stored, and reused for another event. Surrounding centerpieces with lit soy candles adds ambiance, light, and style to any table.
- Tableware: This is where Napkins.com can be a big help. We offer a wide variety of recycled and eco-friendly tableware made using sustainable practices that encourage users to rethink recycling and reach for the goal of eliminating as much waste as possible. The greenest choice would be reusable tableware, but for large groups they are not the most practical. Our Earth Wise Tree Free collection includes plates and bowls made from bagasse, a natural by-product of sugar cane processing. All bagasse products are compostable, microwaveable, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours. These containers make a tasteful and socially responsible statement. Choose Nature's Greens Earth Wise Guest Towels or Beverage Napkins decorated with delicate floral designs, made from 100% recycled content and Green Seal certified. For more a more elegant appearance and feel in a dinner napkin, try our Linen-Like Natural Guest Towels for a sit-down affair. Check out our bulk serving items for reusable translucent trays, bowls, and divided serving dishes that can be rewashed and stored. If the event you are hosting or planning is more casual or needs some entertainment for children, Napkins.com offers numerous Economy and Dollar Wise paper placemats that feature 100% recycled material in a wonderful choice of colors and designs—look for seasonal, holiday, informational, or kid-friendly varieties.
When you are asked to host, organize, and execute an eco-friendly event, take the time to plan, research, and use earth friendly products and practices in all aspects of the occasion. It's not as difficult as it seems ,and the end results will only reinforce your customer's or client's commitment to being environmentally conscious.