By now, the corporate demand for green meetings, well-meaning wedding clients and a general desire to save the planet from environmental destruction have solidified the fundamentals of eco-friendly event design: Cut down on waste, conserve resources, and reduce, reuse or recycle. Beyond these basics, though, what can you do to add a little pretty to your event while keeping your carbon footprint in check? Easy. Incorporate these clever, cool and oh-so-sustainable eco-decor discoveries.
Among the most commonly used decor items, candles can also be among the most eco-unfriendly. Conventional candles are not only made with bleach and synthetic chemical fragrances but produce toxic soot when burned. But not Imageglow candles. The company's signature Lantern Candles use a patented process to embed designs — dots, damask, toile, flora, fauna, etc. — into an eco-friendly wax “lantern.” As the unscented, pure-burning candle melts down, the design is illuminated. Plus, since they're fully contained, Imageglow candles are perfect for venues that don't allow open flames. These candles also make great favors: Once the original interior candle melts completely, an event guest can reuse the lantern indefinitely by inserting a tealight. Whether you include Imageglow candles in centerpieces, place them on restroom sink counters or sprinkle them in lounge spaces, they will end their event lives the same way: happily biodegrading in the compost bin.
GLASS DHARMA GLASS STRAWS
These sleek, chic, totally reusable straws will get tongues wagging at any event bar. Yes, they're made out of glass, so some special handling care is required. But Glass Dharma's fire-polished borosilicate glass provides unexpected durability — though just in case, the company provides a full guarantee and promises to replace any broken straw quickly. You can expect these straws to stand up to standard dishwasher cleaning and heavy use, from wedding receptions to media launches to cocktail soirees. You can also expect to reduce your event's landfill contribution by a whole lot of plastic.
ACME PARTY BOX
Whether you need napkins, runners or an entire turnkey eco-party package, ACME has you covered. The company supplies themed “party boxes,” which include sustainably made invitations, favors, compostable tableware and centerpieces that you can use on their own or enhance with additional decor and floral. Event pros, though, are most keen on ACME's custom linens. The linens are made with organic cotton and vintage — aka recycled — material and can be matched to any color palette or theme. Top each place setting with one of ACME's lovely garden lapel pins or a 100-percent-cotton ACME favor bag filled with seeds, organic dried herbs or loose tea, and you've created a genuine green garden party, bridesmaid lunch or baby shower.
The name doesn't exactly bring to mind idyllic waste-free landscapes and blissfully intact ozone, but Slobproof stain-proof furniture is an eco-event designer's dream. The secret is Crypton — no, not Krypton, the fictional planet of the DC Comics universe, but a nontoxic, eco-friendly moisture barrier that protects furniture from spills, splashes, smudges and other common event mishaps. Slobproof uses sustainable maple hardwood and fluorocarbon-free foam to manufacture its furniture, then upholsters it with Crypton fabric, which repels chocolate, wine, tomato sauce and dirt with Superman-like strength and efficiency. Picture your inventory enhanced by a handful of modular Howards End Tablesor a couple of midcentury-mod Sally Sofas — all clean, pristine and reassuringly green, no matter how many times you rent them.
ECO-DECOR TIPS FROM A GREEN-EVENT PRO
Kristen Dummer's Portland, Maine-based Bravo Alpha Events (www.bravoalphaevents.com) works nationwide and offers an exclusive Green Event Certification. No greenwashing, no eco lip-service, no excuses: Bravo Alpha's analysis hinges on a 100-point test that takes into account communications, host-city selection, venue, transportation, energy use, carbon emissions, event production, and food and beverage. Events must meet an 85 percent minimum in order to be certified — a distinction that satisfies corporate mandates, draws donors and attracts eco-savvy movers and shakers. Here are Dummer's do-right tips for making any event more environmentally responsible:
Use LIVE PLANTS to dress the space. “This works for any type of event! It is eco-friendly because you can usually rent live trees/plants from a local greenhouse and return them after the event.”
Use — and reuse — GLASS JARS. “Glass jars of various shapes and sizes all work, from milk bottles to Mason jars to jelly jars — the more, the merrier!”
Switch to BEESWAX CANDLES. “Beeswax candles are readily available everywhere now. Use candles to create beautiful, peaceful decor, but don't choose paraffin wax candles, which are made from petroleum oil and release toxic emissions when burned.”