Why Should I? Planning A “Green” Event

By: Jessica Plassman

Event planning is complex and time consuming. So, why do we do it? As the current Green Events coordinator, I have spent a large chunk of my three months with IUOS exploring the importance of and motivation behind hosting events. Discovering why we do what we do was nearly as important to my project as determining what entails a “green” event.

By looking at the different types of events, a central commonality becomes apparent. Take a short list of events for example:

  • Business Meeting
  • Academic Conference
  • Company Retreat
  • Colloquium
  • Birthday Party
  • Reunion

What do all of these have in common?

While they may intersect at multiple points, I identified what I think to be the most important relationship: RELATIONSHIPS. Whether meeting to discuss quarterly expenditures, listening to a scholar present their research, or celebrating nuptials, we are building and maintaining relationships. From this perspective, events become a central and significant part of our lives. Through events – big/small, formal/informal, impersonal/intimate – we are able to build bonds and create community.

I think we can all agree that relationships are woven into the very fabric of human nature. But, can we also agree that our social gatherings are part of a much broader relationship with the environment? The reasons we host events are, more often than not, human-centered. When we think of relationships, we think of person-to-person; we think of a partner, a friend, a boss, a peer. When we fail to consider humans and the environment, we fail to consider the future of all relationships.

While the focus of events is on the people who gather together, a more important relationship is forgotten and ignored. This is why a green events initiative was created. IUOS recognizes the significance of events, but it also recognizes the environmental impacts. Therefore, as the appointed Green Events coordinator, I have toiled over how to send a message that promotes the building of relationships while also alerting the public about the deleterious effects of events on the environment.

Although it may not seem obvious that the two can be paired, that there can be “green” events, they are not entirely antithetical concepts. Making an event green involves nothing more than paying attention to relationships. Beyond focusing on the people and defining the success of the event by the happiness of guests, green events focus on both the social and environmental relationships taking place. Therefore, success is driven as much by a bright smile as it is by a balanced ecosystem.

In fact, the marriage of the two – green-events – is a necessary bond if we want to continue to hold events in the future.


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