Close Subscribe

Get the Weekly Recap!!

Get recaps, exclusive offers, stories and discounts. We’ll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time, we promise.

How to plan a big sustainable event: Lessons from SustainPHL
News

How to plan a big sustainable event: Lessons from SustainPHL

When we began to plan the SustainPHL details, we realized that we had an extra step of screening questions. How could we make this event as sustainable as possible, without distracting from the experience?

In years past, I’ve received many email questions about planning a green wedding event but haven’t been able to elaborate. We’re excited to share our insight into how we made SustainPHL live up to its name – inside and out.

We had a few lenses when we were navigating decisions: local /sustainable, a small budget and the guests to have a GREAT experience.

venue

Our first big decision! We wanted somewhere in Center City that was accessible by public transit, biking, and Uber. WHYY fit all those requirements.

Food

We wanted to give a mini Brewer’s Plate feel for sampling local restaurants, so approached sustainably-conscious eateries like Hungry Pigeon, Good Karma Cafe, Honeygrow and CSA Philly Foodworks.

SustainPHL food

A few of our favs, Valley Milkhouse and Cabot, supplied a variety of cheese for us to get our fix.

But that wasn’t enough to feed people what we wanted, so we had to go to a caterer. When I attended SBN’s GSI awards in March, I fell in love with pasta and had to immediately find who made it. 12th Street sources locally, chooses compostable plates and utensils and tastes delicious. SOLD.

And who could neglect these beautiful desserts from 12th Street, Pure Fare & Crust Vegan Bakery?!

SustainPHL desserts

While a majority of the women on the committee embrace a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, we made the decision to accommodate all of our ticket purchasers’ preferences and went with a broad range of selections from vegan to carnivore.

Sidenote: When my family vacationed for a week and took turns cooking, I made vegan enchiladas as the sole vegetarian. At that point, they were eating for free, and I included protein in the meal. For the record, everyone ate more enchiladas than any other dish!

Drink

Beer was easy enough – we love our local brewers and partnered with a few of our favs: Flying Fish Brewing Co., Saint Benjamin’s Brewing and Weyerbacher.

SustainPHL beer

Next, we wanted to acknowledge the homebrew scene. HomeBrewed Events and Jeremy Hancher showcased how local brewers get things done.

SustainPHL homebrews

Liquor and spirits have an excellent native scene currently. Philadephia Distilling’s Bluecoat Gin is a crowd favorite. I’ve enjoyed the Manatwany Still Works crew at various sampling events, and attendees enjoyed tasting their whiskey:

Mantawny Still Works

The evening’s two signature drinks incorporated local spirits & (local farm supporter) Whole Foods Market Italian sodas: a “hat” tip to our logo, the Billy Penn Breeze (Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey & Whole Foods Market Blood Orange Italian Soda) and Solar Spritzer, featuring Bluecoat Gin & Whole Foods Market Lemon Italian Soda.

Billy Penn Breeze - SustainPHL signature drink

The wine was a bit tricky since local vineyards can have pricey tags per bottle. We went a little classy/thrifty with Bota Boxes which are super sustainable for red wine. White wine had to be bottles to maintain chill, so that was based on the store’s recommendations.

For non-alcoholic beverages, we used a mixture of Whole Foods Market brand and fell to our caterer’s recommendation to purchase a few “national” brands in lieu of local options.

Vegan Commissary also provided a plant-based Mocha Cold Brew to pair with dessert, along with ReAnimator Coffee for our local caffeine fix.

Event waste: Recycling, Composting & Food waste

We partnered with Philly Compost, a woman-run composting service that picks up via bicycle. She is an excellent example of a hyperlocal business in Fishtown and was happy to be a part of the event.

Plus, our Munch & Learn expert Tyler Weaver was composting (and teaching DIY) ON THE SPOT.

Tyler Weaver Compost Philadelphia

Luckily WHYY took care of the recycling.

Food waste: We didn’t want any untouched food to meet its end in the garbage cans, so we called the Food Recovery Network. One of their volunteers hauled the leftovers to a soup kitchen to be enjoyed again. The leftover (non-alcoholic) beverages were also donated to WHYY and food shelters in need.

Awards

We didn’t want to create awards from scratch, so RAIR (Recycled Artists in Residency Program) made kickass awards from reclaimed wood! We’re still admiring their beauty.

RAIR reclaimed wood awards

Paperless posts

To print or not to print, that IS the question. (Right?)

We opted to use Ticketleap (who has a handy app and emails tickets) and used paperless check-in for most of our guests.

We covered all of the stories about why the 39 were nominated on Green Philly leading up to the event. Although we debated small paper programs for guests, we opted to use two slideshows at the venue: one for the ceremony, and one to highlight our nominees.

Thank you to everyone who attended, helped and participated in the inaugural SustainPHL! We can’t wait to make next year even better.

Balancing sustainability and providing an optimal experience does have decisions and trade-offs. Readers, what have you done to throw a sustainable event? Tell us in the comments.

Become a Supporter!

If you love what we do you can support our mission with a one-time or monthly contribution.
array(3) {
  [0]=>
  object(WP_Term)#6040 (10) {
    ["term_id"]=>
    int(3205)
    ["name"]=>
    string(6) "Events"
    ["slug"]=>
    string(13) "philly-events"
    ["term_group"]=>
    int(0)
    ["term_taxonomy_id"]=>
    int(266)
    ["taxonomy"]=>
    string(8) "post_tag"
    ["description"]=>
    string(0) ""
    ["parent"]=>
    int(0)
    ["count"]=>
    int(78)
    ["filter"]=>
    string(3) "raw"
  }
  [1]=>
  object(WP_Term)#6039 (10) {
    ["term_id"]=>
    int(3346)
    ["name"]=>
    string(18) "sustainable events"
    ["slug"]=>
    string(18) "sustainable-events"
    ["term_group"]=>
    int(0)
    ["term_taxonomy_id"]=>
    int(3354)
    ["taxonomy"]=>
    string(8) "post_tag"
    ["description"]=>
    string(0) ""
    ["parent"]=>
    int(0)
    ["count"]=>
    int(6)
    ["filter"]=>
    string(3) "raw"
  }
  [2]=>
  object(WP_Term)#6038 (10) {
    ["term_id"]=>
    int(3310)
    ["name"]=>
    string(10) "SustainPHL"
    ["slug"]=>
    string(10) "sustainphl"
    ["term_group"]=>
    int(0)
    ["term_taxonomy_id"]=>
    int(3318)
    ["taxonomy"]=>
    string(8) "post_tag"
    ["description"]=>
    string(0) ""
    ["parent"]=>
    int(0)
    ["count"]=>
    int(70)
    ["filter"]=>
    string(3) "raw"
  }
}
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

4 thoughts on “How to plan a big sustainable event: Lessons from SustainPHL

  1. It was a great event, Julie! I am so inspired by the work you do and the work of all the nominees! Well done!!

  2. Thanks Maryellen! It’s been so nice to get to know you through Toastmasters and I appreciate your support! (And glad you were able to enjoy the party, too!) 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Green Philly

Featured
In These
Great Spots: