Smarter Business: Green Business Guides

Whether it's a wedding, a conference, a launch party or a sleepover, you can take a few easy steps to make your event greener. You'll impress your guests with your creativity and your conscience.

Pick an Easy Location
When you're looking for that perfect setting, keep convenience, and global warming pollution, in mind. Choose a spot that your guests can get to without a Jetstream, and encourage them to leave their limos behind. Help arrange for your guests to carpool to the event, and let them know their public transportation options.

E-vite Your Guests
Emailing invitations saves paper (and money), especially if you have a long guest list. If a printed invitation is an absolute must for your event, use postconsumer recycled paper -- easily available in stores and online -- and give a phone number for RSVPs instead of reply cards.

For more information on buying paper products, see www.nrdc.org/paper

Serve Local Food (and Feed the Locals)
Look for a restaurant or caterer that uses fresh, local or organic foods. If you're planning on serving seafood, make sure it's sustainably caught or farmed and low in mercury. (See our guide to mercury in fish and sustainable seafood recipes for ideas.) Make arrangements with a local food bank to pick up any leftovers at the end of the day.

Use Reusable or Biodegradable Tableware
Stick to cloth napkins and real tableware to reduce the amount of resources your event consumes and the amount of garbage you'll need to dispose of at the end of night. Many caterers can provide everything you need for serving, eating and drinking. For a gathering at home, use your own dishes, and borrow more from your friends if you need to. If you have to go for the take-and-toss variety, look for post-consumer recycled content paper napkins and biodegradable plates, cups and utensils made from corn starch or agricultural waste. They'll degrade in just a couple of months in a commercial composter.

Decorate Naturally
Try using "living" décor such as moss, stones and succulent plants, or organic flowers instead of traditional pesticide-laden bouquets. Send your decorations home with your guests at the end of the night, or reuse them for another event. (Get more green design tips.)

Dazzle with Energy Efficient Lighting
A daytime event -- held outdoors or in a place with plenty of windows -- lets you save big on energy costs and global warming pollution from conventional lighting. For additional lighting, use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use only about one-third of the energy that regular light bulbs do. Look for energy efficient bulbs and fixtures marked with the Energy Star label.

Make Recycling Easy
Don't rummage through trash bins the next day looking for stuff that shouldn't have been thrown away. Make recycling easy by setting out clearly labeled recycling bins for items such as bottles, paper and cans. Check www.earth911.org to find recycling guidelines for your location.

Offset your Output
At the end of the day (or evening), your event is still going to produce some global warming pollution. You can help ease the burden by purchasing a renewable energy credit from a green energy company such as Native Energy or the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Each credit represents an investment in 100 percent clean, renewable energy that will offset the global warming pollution produced by your event.

You can find more green living tips, including information on green weddings and other special occasions, in our free monthly newsletter, This Green Life. Subscribe now.

last revised 2/24/2007

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