Holiday Parties Can Be Green, Too:

December 1st, 2008 by LaunchPad Media

Office celebrations can be environmentally responsible without being any less fun and creative

As event planners, we at LaunchPad have become very familiar with “greening” corporate gatherings.

Here are a few suggestions on how to easily make your own holidays a little greener.

  • If something like “Secret Santa” gift-giving is part of your office celebration, encourage environmentally sensitive gifts: certificates for services or entertainment, recycled content items, items manufactured and sold locally, gift memberships or donations to nature or environmental groups.
  • Consider a “white elephant” gift exchange, with employees bringing a wrapped, used item—perhaps passing on something they received and couldn’t use or a treasured item they’re ready to pass on.
  • Encourage creative thinking in gift-wrapping: home-decorated paper bags or reusable cloth bags, colorful thrift-store scarves or towels, the Sunday comics, pictures from old magazines and calendars.
  • If you have a choice of venue, select places that are centrally located and accessible by mass transit. When appropriate, suggest carpooling or other alternatives that use less fuel.
  • Spearhead your own recycling at the party for little money. You can purchase many recycling-style containers at stores like Target or Wal-Mart, or make your own from lightweight barrels or rectangular boxes that can be securely taped at one end with the only opening at the top (for convenience they should be at least 30″ tall). Recycling containers should be a different shape or color from trash containers.
  • Keep recycling collection containers visible, convenient and well-labeled.
  • Serve hors d’oeuvres, holiday dessert cookies and other finger foods that reduce the need for paper plates and utensils, or use durable ones. Consider donating edible leftovers to local charities.
  • If serving alcohol, ask liquor stores to take back boxes. Ask bartenders to save all glass or recyclable plastic bottles for your in-house recycling program (or arrange to have them taken to a community drop-off recycling center).
  • Reduce waste with reusable party decorations. Christmas, Fourth of July and other holiday-themed decorations can be stored and used year after year. Or use simple, non-themed decorations that can be reused any time of the year. If you do change décor, donate last year’s reusable decorations to charities or nonprofit organizations.
  • If your holiday party is for clients or customers, be sure to publicize the environmental efforts you’re making. Let them know that being environmentally friendly is for their benefit, too.

Planning a green event takes a little more time and effort, but the rewards are great. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve conserved resources, reduced landfill waste, and shown a commitment to preserving a sustainable quality of life for our community and world.

Jacob Eidsmoe is the vice president and co-founder of LaunchPad media, an award-winning creative agency in Watertown, Massachusetts.