By Adrian Johansen
Sustainable businesses are becoming more prominent across the country, leading the way when it comes to environmental awareness and improvement. It’s not just the U.S., either. One study found that about 80% of the world’s top businesses now report on sustainability, recognizing its importance.
Most sustainable businesses take pride in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprints and to create a brighter tomorrow.
But sustainability goes beyond business models and daily operations. You have to encourage eco-friendly practices across every avenue of the workplace – including events. Whether you’re the one in charge of events for your workplace, or you want to be able to suggest sustainable changes, let’s cover some ideas for hosting eco-friendly work events that will keep your commitment going strong, even while you’re celebrating.
Use the Right Products
You’ve probably put a lot of time, effort, and research into utilizing eco-friendly office supplies in your workplace. That same mindset should go into the planning for your work event. Think about all of the items you’ll need to buy, from decorations to clean-up, and consider your sustainable alternatives.
For example, most events have a meal or, at the very least, hors d’oeuvres (we’ll talk more about going green with your food choices later!). There are sustainable alternatives to almost every type of utensil someone will need. From using cloth napkins and biodegradable paper plates to bamboo silverware and recyclable cups, there are plenty of swaps you can make from traditional serving ware and dinnerware.
Look for other alternatives to common event necessities such as:
- Table coverings
At the end of a successful event, it’s never exactly fun to see the giant mess you have to clean up. However, you can be even more sustainable in your cleaning choices by opting for eco-friendly products. Eco-friendly cleaning products reduce pollutants in the air and they’re less harmful to the person using them. So, while they can’t make all of the cleaning you have ahead of you disappear, they can make you feel good about getting everything sparkling again.
Reduce Food Waste
Food waste is a huge problem around the globe. In the U.S., it takes up more space in landfills than anything else. Not only does that waste contribute to hunger in our country, but it’s damaging the planet. When food ends up in a landfill, it eventually starts releasing methane gases, contributing to climate change.
Food growing and processing takes a lot of energy, and agricultural practices account for 70% of the world’s water use. By wasting what’s being produced, you’re also wasting precious resources.
Because most events have at least some type of catering brought in, how can you make sure you’re cutting back on food waste when you have so many people to take care of?
Try some of the following tips:
- Make food waste reduction a part of your initial plan.
- Ask guests to RSVP ahead of time so you know how much food to prepare.
- Talk to your kitchen staff.
- Choose in-season ingredients that can be purchased locally.
- Select caterers that are committed to sustainability.
Talk to your guests about your efforts to reduce food waste throughout the event. You might even consider including it in your invitations, including statistics about how important it is to take action. People are more likely to be conscious of the food they take and what they actually eat and throw away when they understand how much of an impact it can have.
If you do have leftover food at the end of the event, don’t dump it right away. Food that hasn’t been touched by any guests or prepared food that never went out can sometimes be donated to local food banks or homeless shelters. Any canned goods or fresh produce that wasn’t used can also be donated.
Make Sustainability Center Stage
One of the best ways to host an eco-friendly work event is to make it known that your goal is to be as green as possible. You don’t necessarily need to push an agenda on anyone. After all, you want people to enjoy themselves and feel relaxed.
But, don’t be afraid to make your efforts known. Label recycled and/or biodegradable items. Talk about green initiatives you’ve taken to make the party more sustainable, and tie that into your overall business model to strengthen the mission of your brand.
Even if you choose not to say anything about your eco-friendly efforts, you can show people. Make sure there are recycling bins available next to every trash can and label them appropriately. You can even hire a service team to help with extra waste and make sure people are using the right receptacles.
With so many businesses making an effort to be more sustainable, making your events follow suit is important. Keep these ideas in mind as you start to plan your next work event, and offer as many suggestions as you can to make things better for your guests and the planet alike.
Image Source: Unsplash
Adrian Johansen strives to prioritize sustainability and ethics in all she does. To that end, she writes in multiple fields, applying and promoting sustainable methods and ideals as much as possible. You can find more of her writing here.