Blog/Podcast: 9 Ways to Make Your Firm’s Next Event More Environmentally Friendly with Just as Much Impact
Everyone loves a party. Unfortunately, large events often mean wasted food, disposable decorations and garbage bags full of cups and plates. Not much to love about that.
It doesn’t have to be this way, however. Deborah Kattler Kupetz, founder of dkkevents and Recenterpiece.com, specializes in “green” event planning that combines style with environmental responsibility. She’s helped numerous law firms plan eco-friendly events, and she joined the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst Podcast to share nine of her best tips.
- Most people want to do the right thing. It might seem like a challenge to convince people to go green, but most people are willing to make the switch. This is especially true if making that switch is as simple and effective as doing things the traditional way. Surprisingly, getting this kind of buy-in is relatively easy at law firms, where lawyers have strong critical thinking skills and a keen sense of justice.
- Invest in and reuse event supplies. Most people assume that an event requires paper napkins, disposable plates and plastic cups. But in some cases, it makes more sense to buy products and reuse them for your annual events. A set of glassware is more expensive up front, but it’s cheaper in the long run (not to mention better for the environment).
- Disposables can be beautiful. Today’s biodegradable products are lightyears ahead of where they were a decade ago. Sustainable materials such as bamboo are functional and beautiful enough to use for special events. These products still have a carbon footprint due to manufacturing and shipping, but if disposables are necessary, there are fabulous options available.
- Use produce for easy centerpieces. Flowers are classic centerpieces, but they wind up in the trash shortly after the event. Instead, try using bowls of produce such as citrus fruit. Produce has the same visual impact, and it can be taken home by guests or donated to a food bank afterwards. Just make sure that someone is responsible for the fruit so it doesn’t get tossed by wait staff.
- Plan internal holiday parties that make sense. Office holiday gatherings usually entail a cocktail party or dinner, but does that make sense for the culture of your firm? Don’t waste resources on a dinner that no one is excited about, when they really want to see a movie, go rock climbing or volunteer together. There are tons of options—for example, one of the firms Deborah worked with had a paint and sip night and put everyone’s paintings in their lobby. Choose an event that works for you.
- For external events, think beyond the holiday season. Many firms throw holiday parties for clients in December or November, but it may not be worthwhile to compete with them during this busy season. Don’t feel pressured to throw an extravagant (and resource-draining) party, when you could plan a more unique event at another time of year—without being confined to the season of feasts and overconsumption.
- Want to reduce your footprint? Start with food. Food—both the production and shipping of it—is a huge source of waste and greenhouse gas emissions. If you want to make the biggest impact at your event, start by choosing locally grown foods. You could even try cutting out meat (which has the highest carbon footprint) and have an entirely vegetarian party. No one will miss the beef or chicken, if the food is delicious.
- Everything has an impact. Ordering supplies on Amazon usually saves money and time, but it also means additional packaging and trucks on the road. That’s not to say you should never order anything online, but it does mean you should weigh your options and consider the larger impact your actions have. You have a choice with everything you buy, so take care to make choices you feel good about.
- Start a conversation. Green events are still relatively unusual, so hosting one sends a strong message about your firm’s values. Surprising touches, such as beautiful compostable place settings or a catered dinner made with food scraps, spark conversation among guests and gets them talking about your firm and what you stand for. Speak to your guests about the efforts you’ve made, which may inspire them to take their own action.
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