Planning an event for your company and doing it sustainably can be a fun and interesting way to engage your employees and show that your company is committed to more than just the bottom line. Here, we outline some of her tips for making your events as sustainable as possible–simply and inexpensively.

Work with local green vendors

You might be surprised to find out there are green certified photographers in your area. Depending on where you are, there may be a green business certification program that can point you toward these folks. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for instance, you can find just about any green vendor in the Bay Area, from florists, photographers, printers, etc. from

Plan to have a near zero waste event

•    Go paperless – email electronic versions of all the materials to your attendees for review either prior or after the meeting

•    Use whiteboards instead of paper

•    If you must print – always use recycled paper and print double-sided

•    Provide reusable name badges that are collected after the meeting


•    Provide recycling stations for: paper, cans/plastic/glass, and composting (in different locations in the room)

•    To ensure these are used properly, make an announcement before the meeting to let people know about the bins

Conserve Energy, Reduce Traffic

•    Take advantage of naturally lit meeting and exhibit spaces

•    Hold meetings in green buildings

•    Encourage public transportation options, or better yet ask them to walk (this is where your venue selection is very important)

Food Service and Lodging

•    Offer a vegetarian/vegan option

•    Plan food service needs to avoid unnecessary waste

•    Seek out certified green food service vendors

•    Donate excess food to charitable organizations or to your volunteers

•    Use reusable (washable) food service items or use biodegradable materials

•    Don’t use single serving packets (creamers, sugar, etc) – use containers instead

•    Do not give out plastic water bottles – have pitchers of water

•    Encourage attendees to bring their re-usable beverage containers or bring branded items with your company logo for people to use

•    If meeting attendees are from out of town, recommend they stay in a green hotel (these can be certified locally by the municipality, and/or by the Green Hotels Association, though local standards can be more stringent depending on where you are having your event)

Eco-Friendly Products

•    Use only recycled paper and vegetable- and soy-based inks

•    Provide reusable pocket or file folders and cloth bags if attendees will be given any materials


Karine Brighten, author of this article, is a certified green business, and event planner serving the San Francisco Bay Area.

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About The Author

Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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