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Creating eco-friendly events

August 1st, 2007 / By: / Event Production

The latest event trend is sustainability: Prepare your business for green opportunities ahead.

When the bombardment of global-warming headlines first began, event professionals may not have given them a second look, aside from maybe vowing to recycle more at home. But today, there is a strong movement to “go green”—and it’s no longer just for tree-huggers. Brides and corporations alike are feeling the pressure to do something socially responsible, especially when it comes to putting on events.

The latest wedding trend, particularly on the west coast, is not only chocolate brown linens or personalized favors. Event planners are finding more and more that their clients are requesting help having a sustainable wedding. According to the Associated Press, savvy businesses are cashing in on the growing green trend in an already booming wedding industry.

“Going green is one of the great business opportunities of the 21st century, and the rapid growth of green weddings and green wedding consulting groups is not surprising,” business professor David Cooperrider told the AP. “In fact, wedding advisers that are not going green are going to be at a competitive disadvantage.”

Meeting planners are also feeling the heat from new eco-friendly demands, meaning they need to be more creative in planning events for their clients. “Groups are requesting ‘giving back to the community’ type activities,” Tracey Brenneman told the San Diego Business Journal. Brenneman is a senior sales manager for PRA Destination Management Inc., which has 19 offices across the U.S. She said beach cleanups are particularly popular event activities, along with volunteering at charities.

PRA sales manager Stacey Storer told the Business Journal that people like the idea of going green. “With global warming, people like when you can show them an event or activity that is helping, and not hurting, the environment.”

Going completely green may be difficult—after all, people will still have to travel to your event, causing some form of air pollution. “Going a little bit green is better than not all, because every thoughtful action helps our environment,” said Maria McBride, wedding style director at Brides magazine. “Celebrating your wedding with global awareness is a satisfying way to begin a life of commitment together and important way to guide the marketplace to provide even more environmentally correct business practices,” McBride told the AP.

It’s easy to understand why everyone’s clamoring to be deemed the greenest event host. But how exactly does it work? These days, it’s easier than it sounds. More and more caterers are offering organic, pesticide-free foods—and many will use locally sourced goods. Anything washable and reusable cuts down on landfill waste, so party rental companies have a clear advantage. Dedicated brides may even go so far as to choose potted plants over cut flowers, useful favors (such as tulip bulbs) over anything that can end up on the trash heap, and a wedding dress that can be worn again. Planners that can help put brides in touch with eco-savvy vendors will have a hold on the environmental market.

Tents are a great option for discerning clients, offering a potentially low-energy event that can be celebrated in nature’s best splendor. Tent rental companies can encourage their clients to throw environmentally friendly events by setting their event during the daytime at a pleasant time of year. Clear-top tents in the daylight will cut down on the need for interior lighting (and thus energy expended). Don’t forget that the sun’s heat means clear tops work best for areas with some natural shade, unless it is fairly cool outside.

In addition, hosting the event during a mild time of year means that the event is less likely to need heating or air conditioning, cutting back even more on energy use for the event. And capitalizing on an area’s natural features such as trees, bushes and flowers can cut down the need for fresh-cut blooms, which are often shipped in from places all over the globe.

Think creatively about the ways you can market yourself as a green event professional. And be sure to back up your claims with actual practices—shrewd clients will do their research to sort out the honest companies from those trying to make a quick buck. With a little knowledge and innovation, you too can capitalize on clients’ strengthening desire to host the greenest event.

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