’Tis the season to green your celebrations

UN Development Programme
Nov 26 · 4 min read

Whether you are planning an end of the year celebration for your organization or a get-together with friends, you can make your event better for the planet. Here are some ideas of how to make your holiday gatherings greener:

1) Cut greenhouse gas emissions from travelling

Photo of electric bus
Photo of electric bus
©Silva Villalobos/Shutterstock.com

Most of the world’s emissions come from electricity, transportation, and other forms of energy production. And greenhouse gas contributes to the warming of Earth. Here is how you can cut your impact when organizing an event:

· Choose a venue close to public transport

· Arrange a bus for everyone. If available, choose electric or biofuel

· Carpool

2) Choose a venue that is conscientious about its environmental footprint

©UNDP Turkey

By choosing a green venue, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, use water and other resources sustainably, and dispose of your waste responsibly.

· Choose venues that have recycling bins

· Find venues which efficiently manage the lighting to reduce energy consumption

· Ask for low energy consuming audio-visual equipment and lighting, LED, re-usable backdrops and light washing

· Ask the venue to identify a local charity or school to donate materials to after the event is over

3) Choose a green menu

Photo of women picking berries
Photo of women picking berries
©UNDP Eurasia/Arben Llapashtica

Clearing land for grazing means more cattle and more methane, which is 25 times more powerful than CO2. Moving to a planetary health diet will require global consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar to decrease by half while consumption of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes must double.

· Choose a meat-free menu

· If you decide to offer seafood, buy it from retailers who work with certified sustainable fisheries

· Ask the caterer to source fair trade products where possible, such as coffee, sugar, and chocolate

· Ask your caterer to source locally and, if possible, to provide certified organic options

· Ask your caterer if composting or biofuel is available for food that can’t be donated

4) Reduce waste

Photo of plastic waste
Photo of plastic waste
© iStock /GavinD

Every year up to 13 million tonnes of plastic flood the ocean. That’s equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, so most of it still exists in some form.

Being conscious about paper use is also beneficial for the environment: 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water can be saved for every tonne of paper recycled.

· Avoid single-use plastics

· Request and verify that caterer eliminates single-use items wherever possible such as sugar sachets, cups, condiments, water bottles, opting for ceramic and glass tableware

· Go paperless. Use email, set up a website, or groups on messenger to spread the word

· If you need to print, choose recycled or certified FSC, Swan, Blue Angel, Type 1 eco labels paper

· Use sustainable materials for decorations: Request and verify that no polystyrene or toxic polyvinyl chloride is used

· Encourage guests to give time instead of something that is being tossed immediately

· Try sustainable party favours: no plastic, including plastic fabrics like polyester, and no toxic materials. Find inspiration for sustainable giveaways at the UNDP shop. You can also give offsets as a party favour.

5) Offset emissions

While the goal is to reduce emissions as much as possible, some emissions may be unavoidable at the moment. Use United Nations Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) to measure your event’s emissions and offset it at UNFCCC.

Photo of nature
Photo of nature
©UNDP China

UN Development Programme

Written by

Transforming our world #By2030. Visit us at www.undp.org

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