Are those big plastic garbage bags full of disposable cups and plates a necessary evil of any company event? Absolutely not. If you would not know where to begin, however, you might want to reach out to Inward Point. Its founders, Andy King and Brendan Doherty, are experts who can produce cost-effective signature events that are not just memorable, but also strengthen corporate brands by reducing the carbon footprint and incorporating local products.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF MAKER
Andy, who has made New York his homebase for almost 30 years, grew up in such a large family that every dinner together was a party for 11 plus. Experiencing food and entertaining on a large scale as a daily activity naturally morphed into a catering and event planning career for him.
After he launched a concierge program at Pepsico's world headquarters in Purchase, The Wall Street Journal featured Andy in a front page article that catalyzed his career in corporate events and branding. His lightbulb moment connecting brand, sustainability and events occurred in the summer of 2012 as an event he had created at the zoo in Central Park for 1,400 guests wound down. While his team packed things up, he looked around at the large number of garbage bags mainly filled with red plastic cups and plastic water bottles and decided there was a better way. It was a double-take moment that transformed the way he looked not only at his industry, but also at the world.
Andy King. Photo provided by: Inward Point
THE BIRTH OF INWARD POINT
The following weekend, sailing with Brendan, the two of them discussed how the amount of waste at large events was out of control and decided they needed a major overhaul. Inward Point was born that day.
Its name was inspired by a wildlife refuge they passed on the Island of Monomoy, a spit of land that stretches between Cape Cod and Nantucket. Halfway down the island is an area called Inward Point, a favorite spot for clamming and family picnics. “Inward Point” seemed an appropriate name for their new business, representing the delicate balance of preservation and population.
THE INWARD POINT MODEL
What is unique about Inward Point is not just the creative nature of each production, but also that it makes every event a way to give back by reducing its carbon footprint and supporting local products.
Andy credits time spent in Chatham for introducing him to the riches the Hudson Valley and mid-Upstate New York offer with respect to pioneering methods of organic and that sustainable farming, food production and the growing cottage industries piggybacking off those new products.
Andy in Columbia County, NY. Photo Credit: Silda Wall Spitzer
While the Inward Point concept presented a steep learning curve, Andy and Brendan educated themselves about sustainable practices and the appropriate vendors to facilitate those practices.
They needed to teach their corporate and not-for-profit clients how they could change the way they entertained and elevate their brands by incorporating sustainable practices with a low carbon footprint. They had to keep the bottom line cost competitive, while showing that the event was notable, as well as sustainable in the reduction of waste, the introduction of local sourcing and alternative energies. They developed Inward Point data analytics and a metric calculator to measure the carbon footprint of an event.
Management of waste has typically been Inward Point’s first priority, and local sourcing, its second. Waste is broken down to recycling, repurposing, food rescuing programs and commercial composting. Local sourcing includes not only food, but also materials, transportation, alternative energy, LEED (“Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”, a certification program used primarily for new buildings based upon a points system for sourcing, materials and sustainable practices)-certified venues and the social responsibility of employing local talent and staff.
Splacer Breakfast Event. Photo provided by: Inward Point
For example, a nonprofit organization promoting 100 percent renewable energy usage in America by 2050 wanted to hold an event with a minimal carbon footprint. Inward Point found a community garden in the East Village of Manhattan where they entertained 250 guests and had only 4 lbs 8 oz of total waste.
To achieve this, they used: Electric and solar powered food trucks; all organic and locally sourced ingredients; compostable plates and cups; a solar powered cell phone charging station; a woman-owned composting company handling all waste removal; all décor were herbs and plants planted into the garden the following day; the entertainment and performers were found and hired from subway stations in and around Manhattan; all banners were made from RPET (material created from recycled plastic water bottles); and a graffiti artist painted a live installation during the event on the side of a prominent building adjacent to the garden to be enjoyed by residents for years to come.
B-Corp Champions Retreat, Fall 2016. Photo Credit: B Lab
As another example, a Fortune 500 corporation hired Inward Point for a number of smaller-scale events during climate week at the United Nations to target millennial entrepreneurs making positive sustainable changes in each of their sectors. For these, Inward Point went local and minimal footprint by partnering with a local caterer who has a smoke house in Queens, grows all of her produce on her farm on the North Fork of Long Island, sources all of her fish from her uncle, a local Long Island fisherman, and prepares most of her delicious food in her commissary kitchen in an old building on Rockaway Beach, which she helped restore after hurricane Sandy. As a counterpoint to the huge events going on that week, Inward Point also convinced the company to host its gatherings in nearby private homes of like-minded owners and to use no cut flowers or paper products.
This past year, Inward Point spread its wings beyond New York to produce several large events across the country in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Des Moines, Philadelphia, Miami and Boston -- though their base remains firmly rooted in New York.
The Big Quiet on top of One World Trade. Photo Provided by: Inward Point
HOW CAN YOU MAKE YOUR PARTIES MORE SUSTAINABLE?
The best way to begin is simply to get off party-autopilot. Think about creative ways to deliver the purpose of your party in as memorable and sustainable way as possible. What can you serve that is locally made or grown? How can you minimize waste? Finger foods don’t require cutlery or even plates. Instead of drinks in plastic containers, make your own and use biodegradable cups -- or do something more distinctive, such as serving Bloody Marys in locally-grown green peppers that can be eaten! You might be surprised that the inventiveness translates into more fun. While sourcing sustainable, local products can sometimes be more costly, there are many ways to find event savings, including:
- replacing large expensive flower arrangements with beautiful plants and herbs that guests can take home;
- eliminating wasteful goodie bags. If you want guests to leave with something, replace bags with something that can be reused and not thrown away, (e.g., At an event this past spring, Inward Point created a small farmer’s market that guests passed through as they exited the event. Using bags made from repurposed t-shirts, guests filled them with wonderful organic and local fruits and veggies); and
- donating leftover food to shelters or other nonprofits helping populations in need and also providing a possible tax benefit.
At the end of the day, as you are planning your next party, Andy advises: “think local, reduce waste and have fun being creative!”