On Saturday night I attended the Small Business Christmas Party at the EnCana Event Centre. It was a fun event: great food, great venue, great music and great company. The Small Business Christmas party was designed and planned so that a multiple of small businesses could enjoy a holiday staff party, do it as a group, and thereby create so many more advantages. A wonderful idea! It was also, in many ways, a sustainable event. I think that the organizers might be surprised to learn that by consolidating a number of small business parties into one larger event, they became “green(er) by accident”.
Green meeting and event planners are always looking for ways to tie events together, or combine events to minimize the environmental footprint. The Small Business Christmas Party was a perfect example of this sustainability strategy: a group of individuals choosing to have one larger gathering instead of many, smaller holiday parties. Why is that a better alternative? At a singular event, less fossil fuels are used, less energy is consumed and less waste is generated and placed in the landfills. Here are some examples:
• Delivery companies make a single trip to one venue which cuts down on the use of fossil fuels
• Only one venue is used on one night decreasing the amount of energy consumed (light and heat)
• Food waste is minimized - every event can generate substantial food waste (folks who RSVP positively but then do not attend, incorrectly confirming plate numbers, food scrapings)
• Paper waste is minimized – one party equals one invitation.
• Less signage required
• Floral centerpieces are generated only once, which minimizes waste and the use of fossil fuels to transport to different venues.
Congratulations! Good job!
It doesn’t make it any less impactful if the sustainability strategies were unintentional. In fact…….many, many folks are sustainability specialists without even knowing it. Labeled as “frugal”, they are conscientious about their use of power and water. They creatively upcycled items before upcycling became trendy. They garden so that they have homegrown food throughout the year.
During the holiday season it can be difficult to be mindful of sustainability. Here are a few tips for a greener Christmas:
Minimize Food Waste: Be mindful when creating meat and cheese or veggie platters for guests because we tend to make them too large and the result is disposing of a lot of it at the end of the evening. Store your prepared meat, cheese and vegetables in zip lock bags in the refrigerator and replenish your “smaller” platters more often.
Locally Made Gifts: Craft sales have a bevy of locally created items to choose from to give as a gift at Christmas.
Support Local Business: By shopping locally we sustain our local businesses.
Recycle your old Christmas Cards: There are many uses for old Christmas cards: cut them down and use them for gift tags, slip them underneath a clear liner to create a pretty tabletop or….the list is endless.
Make a donation: There are many local organizations who rely on donations to operate. Do a little research, find out if they need money or if they have a wish list you can contribute towards.
Wishing you all a very merry, “greener” holiday season!
Judy Kucharuk is owner of Footprint Management Systems Inc. and specializes in Green Meetings and Event Innovation. Currently President of GMIC Canada Chapter in Formation. For more info log onto her blog www.managefootprint.blogspot.com or follow her on twitter @judylaine