Glass flower pot filled with coins and a little sprout coming through the top

3 Ways to Incorporate a “Green Line” Into Your Event Budget

At the beginning of the event planning process the best of intentions are always set. This year you’re going to have a better organized load-in schedule, you won’t forget lighting in your main operations station at your outdoor festival and you will include more green initiatives. This year in particular, event sustainability has become a priority for the client. They’re educated about event sustainability and why it’s important – they want to do right by the environment, community and brand image. The client has requested that overall, the event needs to produce less waste, however they don’t have a large budget for it. Now it’s your job to figure it all out, but HOW? To help guide you through this particular challenge, I will explain how to incorporate a “green line” into the event budget from the very beginning.

Small jar of candy with a name tag Paul as a wedding favour

1. Dual or Multipurpose Items

If your client has a smaller or tight budget, the goal is to source items that can be used more than once during the event. This means the materials account for only one amount on your budget, while simultaneously reducing the number of lines. As exhibited in the photo, it reduces the overall amount that you would have had to spend on both décor and a hydration station. More importantly, these barrels eliminate waste created by single-use bottles and one-time use and toss décor items. Another example would be creating a place card that could also double as a guests’ gift. As pictured, the candies in the jar could be used at Paul’s place. There a multitude of ideas, you just have to get creative with it!

Water station composed of 3 wooden barrels with one stacked on two

With each event comes more experience and knowledge on the types of items you tend to utilize. Begin taking an inventory – even if it’s just going through photos of the events and spaces you’ve produced. Are there any items that you buy then toss or give away each time? Maybe it’s time to make the investment to purchase items of your own. You can offer these as add-ons to your services for clients. This way these components are continuously being reused and it minimizes the financial burden on your clients and increases the value and price of your services. For example, the purchasing of new plants for VIP lounges at multiple festivals each year. The plants get tossed or given away each time and the client must pay for new ones each year. Alternatively, you can invest in purchasing your own plants – take care of them throughout the year and are then able to offer as add-ons to your clients.

Close up of someone's hands cupped together holding some coins and a piece of paper that says make a change

2. Grants

Each province, state and country varies – but there are many government grants available for events and festivals each year. There are even ones that are designated for those events that take on green initiatives. For instance, in Ontario the Festivals and Events Ontario offers grants to events that encourage tourism, spending in the local economy and much more here and the City of Toronto offers waste reduction community grants here. Head to their websites to see deadlines and application requirements. If you need assistance developing a sustainability plan to include in your application, hire an expert!

Glass plant jar filled with coins and a couple of green sprouts shooting up

If an event or festival grant is acquired, utilize the funds as mandated by what the fund or program has stated. This enables you to allocate portions of the event budget (outside this grant) towards your sustainability goals. Whether it’s only for one component such as proper waste management or renting décor rather than purchasing and tossing – it’s a start! Reminder: ALL actions no matter how small have a direct and significant positive impact on our environment!

If funds for green initiatives are granted (WOO HOO!), this will directly become the “green line” within your budget. This can be used to implement your sustainability plan, including purchasing greener alternatives that sometimes cost more than the plastic counterparts.

3. Sponsorships and Partnerships

Another way to incorporate a “green line” into the budget is through sponsorship. The key is to find organizations that share similar environmental sustainability values such that they will be inclined to fund an eco-friendly aspect of your event. For instance, Company A may sponsor all screens for the digital signage at your conference in exchange for displaying only their logo on the signage as well as being mentioned in each breakout session by every speaker.

Bird's eye view of dessert jars lined up with accompanying lids with samples from each jar

Apart from monetary support from a company, an in-kind donation or energy exchange of sorts is an alternative option. A newer company may want exposure to their target audience via your event and may agree to provide particular item in exchange for the publicity. For example, Company B sells and rents reusable takeout containers. They offer you (the event professional) to utilize these containers at your event, in exchange for the opportunity to market themselves to its target audience. For more established organizations, they may have new products they want to introduce to the market. They donate these sample sizes to your event that you can use as parting gifts to your guests.

There are many creative ways to include a “green line” and environmentally friendly items into your event no matter your event budget. Whether it’s finding multi-uses for an item, utilizing designated grant funds or finding sponsorship and partnerships, there is always a way! If you need help figuring out how you can include these eco-friendly items into your next event, let’s chat – Book a 30-minute Event Sustainability Clarity Call with me! 

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