Following the madness of Black Friday and the fact that this time of year is all CONSUME CONSUME CONSUME it’s got me thinking about waste.
Even the most exemplary waste conscious recyclers can become waylaid by an event like a wedding or gala dinner. The amount of work that goes into it and then the craziness of the day itself means that good intentions can go astray, and you end up chucking a load of stuff away that will go straight into landfill.
The main areas that generate waste are:
Dressing waste eg Flowers
Food and beverage waste
Packaging – eg Throwaways
Here are some ways you can reduce waste at your event by planning ahead and making some small changes that will make a big difference.
Printed materials can really add up. There are all the things sent to guests like a Save the Date, invitations, tickets and programmes and then all the planning materials like guest lists and schedules. Go digital! It will make a huge saving on paper and waste at the end of the night, and save money too. Paperless Post is great for a lot of the guest facing stuff, and very stylish too.
If you do need to print off guestlists and schedules for the event, try and wait until the very last minute to avoid having to do more when the inevitable ‘on the day’ changes happen. But having things on an iPad is a great way of avoiding printing them altogether.
Flowers are stunning. I love them, they make any event look incredible but there is no avoiding the fact that they are ‘single use’ and often end up being thrown away. If you are having flowers at your event, ask your florist for some bags so people can take them away at the end of the night, or if it’s a fundraiser, ask for donations for them. Then at least they are enjoyed for as long as possible!
Other decorative elements can also end up being thrown out so hiring them is a way of being more sustainable, and it can also save you cash too!
Food and beverage waste is sometimes an issue with caterers over ordering and having a large margin on the number of dishes they prepare. Ask them to give leftover food to the staff working the event, and ask them to be as prudent as possible when doing the numbers. Composting is also a great tick in the sustainability box, so make sure they do it!
Also Talk to your venue about their waste and sustainability policy and work together with them to help cut down as much as possible. A great venue to look at in terms of how they deal with waste and constantly work to improve their sustainability is London Zoo. You can read their policy here
Packaging. How many times have you ordered a tiny thing that has arrived in a huge box surrounded by acres of bubble wrap? Packaging can create vast amount of waste and is often left abandoned at the end of the night, often just thrown away in an effort to load out as quickly as possible. One way to avoid this is to write recycling tasks into all contracts with vendors/suppliers so that right from the start, they make plans for what to do with all the boxes and plastic likely to be leftover.
You can also bring your guests in on your efforts to reduce waste, perhaps asking them to lift share and letting them know they don’t need to print their tickets out. If you make it a theme of the event, they’ll feel a part of the story and will be motivated to help.
If you have any other ways to make events less wasteful let me know, I'd be really interested to do more on this topic!