At some point, you may become involved in a school or community event. As part of the planning team, you have a say in the small details of planning for the big day, naturally. Even for an established event, there are so many areas in which you can green your event to success.
Here are my thoughts about the ways we can look at event planning through a green lens. Other than the time it takes to set green guidelines up front, subsequent years will be as simple as organic apple gluten-free pie.
A few simple changes can help set your event apart as one that offers healthy food, avoiding the need for visiting parents to pre-pack snacks or detour away from tables of sugary cupcakes; where their children come home with prizes and crafts that last and foster imaginative play; where everyone can depend on finding eco-conscious crafts…
If a vendor market is part of your event income, set some criteria around what types of products or services they are promoting. For example, you may ask that vendors only sell non-toxic products, items made using natural materials, items that are cruelty-free (vegan/not tested on animals), and items that avoid packaging.
Both the food that you serve at your event, as well as the food that you sell at your event for take-home purchase (eg. bakeshop) can be eco-conscious choices. For example…
- Your menu can include foods that are both local and seasonal, where feasible.
- Use organic ingredients as much as possible.
- Serve fair-trade coffee.
- Sell some food that the children have been growing in the school garden.
- Have a few compost bins and recycle bins clearly marked for visitors.
- Dishware, such as plates and cutlery, can be rented at a much more reasonable price than buying bulk disposable one-time use plates.
- Consider a one-time cloth-napkin-making club to cut and stitch a large supply of reusable napkins from recyclable fabric. Then place a large hamper beside the garbage cans marked “cloth napkin disposal.” Napkins can be washed and tucked away in a storage bin for every year after. Think of all the paper napkins you’ll spare and not spend money on ever again! (Can you tell I love to sew?)
Place free-standing water stations around your event, similar to the water coolers you may have in your own home. Encourage people to keep their cups to reuse throughout the event. In your advertising and promotional materials, encourage visitors to bring their own fillable water container in order to receive a free drink or free entry (if it’s a paid event).
Stop the madness with juice/pop/water bottles! Rather, set up a smoothie station! Children and parents alike will appreciate the sweet and nourishing boost (of organic fruit goodness), keeping everyone’s spirits up!
Nature’s beauty of fallen leaves, pine boughs, acorns, rocks, branches, flowers. Experiment with fabric/felt/wooden materials for signs and décor. This can be a coordinated effort by parents for the first year round, but then year over year, there is no work involved at all — just hanging them up to enjoy!
Prizes and crafting materials:
While it can be tempting to load up on plastic prizes and plastic craft beads at the dollar store, handmade is always appreciated and is so much more meaningful!
Before the big event, organize a gathering for people to make prizes together. Children also appreciate prizes that have lasting value, like a painted wooden peg doll, felted acorns in acorn caps. Use natural materials like shells, wooden beads, seed packets and small crystals as prizes or crafting materials. There are many online shops that sell reasonably-priced small wooden products in bulk that are perfect for prizes, just as they are or watercolor-painted.
Planning and promoting:
Before the event, have people bring in extra reusable shopping bags to have available for visitors to use at the event. You may just encourage more shopping, to fill those bags up!
There are several online tools like Volunteer Spot that help to plan your event, the paperless way. While hanging posters in libraries and community spaces are key to advertising an event, promote the paperless way too with social media tools such as evites, Facebook, Twitter and with local bloggers.
Get your green on.