As individuals and businesses within an industry that can generate its fair share of waste, we are all accountable for bringing about positive change in whatever way we can, especially when it comes to being kind to the environment.
Take note of these six companies with eco-friendly services and products that can help your event show our planet some love. We’ll call them our little green helpers!:
Urban Garden Catering
From May to late fall, chefs working the kitchens of L-eat Catering and its sister business, Paese Ristorante, harvest fresh herbs, tomatoes and other home-grown goodness from a 3,000-sq.-ft. urban garden out back. “As an Italian, having a kitchen garden is second-nature to me,” says company founder and chef Tony Loschiavo. “As an industry, we produce a lot of waste! So it’s important we do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint.” The garden, which doubles as an outdoor event space, grows over 60 items, including tomatoes that can trace their origins back to seeds brought from Italy in 1965. Menus are devised around what’s in season or readily available locally. While the fresh picked is used mainly in the restaurant’s dishes, the garden’s wares are also turned into house-made preserves and pickled goods pulled into catering service throughout the year. Other environmental initiatives include rainwater collection, recycling and composting, driving low-emission diesel vehicles and saving fryer oil to be turned into biofuel.
Divert Event Waste
Did you know that a full-day festival with food trucks can generate minimum one pound of food waste per attendee? Did you also know that a few worms can devour 10 lbs of that waste, transforming it into one pound of rich garden manure within a month? Self-professed “garbage geek” Jocelyn Molyneux teamed up with a barnful of red wriggler worms a few years ago to launch Wastenot Farms. The unique composting service collects and picks up food waste (including compostable packaging and paper), feeds it to worms and returns it back to the environment as soil-boosting fertilizer. The company recently extended its services to events and festivals. Wastenot’s team does a pre-event assessment, preps vendors, provides signage, and sets up/staffs its recycling bins to maximize education and on-site diversion. A post-event report delivers the resulting eco-impact deets along with 25% of the worm manure produced for community donation. Gotta love those worms!
Explore Veggie Cuisine
More and more events are opting for vegetarian or vegan-based cuisine. While a vegetarian diet potentially delivers a decreased carbon footprint, it likely won’t save the earth alone. However, it is a decidedly healthy option that’s being embraced by a lot of event-going guests. And vegetarian/vegan is definitely a fitting platform to team up with an eco-friendly cause or theme. Plant-based Soirées is a new Toronto-based boutique event-planning company specializing in orchestrating all the details necessary for hosting occasions built around a plant-based lifestyle. Founder, certified wedding planner and passionate vegan Rachel Osbourne sources and coordinates every plant-based detail possible, from the menu, caterer and venue to gifts and other vendors. The company is a division of FoodPar, an online hub designed to connect veggie-loving diners with plant-based restaurants and events around the world.
Be smart about event promotional gift items — make them useful, purposeful and eco-friendly. Yahvi Jute is new on the event scene, offering jute-made items, from bags and binder covers to all-natural décor items like table linens, cushions, craft fabric and ribbons. Yahvi means “earth” in Sanskrit. Jute is a fast-growing sustainable crop with several earth-pleasing attributes including being compostable and biodegradable. Company owner Sujata Singh, who sources primarily from India, the world’s main producer of jute, has a doctorate in geography and is a passionate environmental advocate. A volunteer climate leader trained by Al Gore, Singh also offers environmental education presentations. Jute bags and other items are available for custom-branding.
From late spring to fall, Events With Purpose, a division of the Xpeerience Group, partners with the Toronto Botanical Garden to offer Urban Buzz, a scavenger hunt-style teambuilding program. Armed with tablets, groups set out on an interactive quest around the gardens to solve pollination- or plant-themed clues that lead to the location of puzzle pieces — eight bee house parts. The final challenge: Assemble the bee houses and paint them for take home or donation to urban pollinator initiatives. The company also offers a Charity Bike Build with challenges customizable to the importance of pedal power when it comes to saving the environment.
Going paperless is an obvious choice when it comes to event best practices and environmental preservation. However, not everything is replaceable by digital signage or an online presence. For essential printed pieces, opt for a company that takes an earth-friendly approach. Toronto-based Warren’s Waterless Printing gets top marks for its environmental stewardship. The first Bullfrog Powered printer in Canada, the company uses vegetable-based inks and certified recyclable papers. In addition to digital printing, the company is recognized for its waterless offset presses that eliminate the use of water in the printing process along with the need to dispose of tainted water.