Local Entrepreneur Puts a Green Spin on Event Planning

Article courtesy of the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership

She’s been studying environmental science since she was 12 years old and planning events since her college years. Now with 15 years of experience under her belt planning events nationwide, Rachel McCalla is working with her own company to plan environmentally conscious events in the St. Louis area.

McCalla founded Lucky You Productions in 2006 with the goal of promoting awareness about sustainability and providing reasonable, cost-effective green alternatives for wedding and event planning. Since its inception, the company has hosted a variety of events, including street festivals, weddings, parties, fundraisers and fashion shows – all of which included at least one sustainable area of production, such as recycling, composting or offsetting with wind energy.

At times, McCalla says her work has proven to be challenging since many people have yet to embrace the concept of green events. Despite the fact that more companies and individuals are making the choice to go green, she says many still believe that hosting a green event can be too expensive. But, according to McCalla, the opposite is true.

“Green events are typically less expensive because you’ll buy most of what you need from local vendors. The total cost will be much less than if you had bought from somewhere else,” McCalla said.

For her green events, McCalla only buys from local floral shops, wineries and local organic food producers. This not only decreases the steep costs associated with shipping items from outside of the area, but it’s also better for the environment because the items used are traveling fewer miles to market. As a result, energy is saved in transport-sources, and fewer emissions are released into our air.

In addition to buying locally, McCalla also emphasizes the importance of repurposing while planning events.

“I think with all green event planning, you just have to look at something and say ‘what can I make that into?’” McCalla said. “That’s what we try to do, and we can repurpose just about anything.”
In the past, McCalla has used grass and asparagus fern as napkin rings, wine corks as name card holders and naturally grown plants like kale and ivy as part of centerpieces. She also tries to only use products that are biodegradable and eco-friendly, such as bamboo plates and soy candles.
Though McCalla plans many different kinds of events, she works most closely on weddings, planning about three green weddings each year with the hopes of greatly increasing the number in the years to come.

“Of all the events I plan, weddings are the ones that can make a large impact on the environment in the long run,” McCalla said. “Experts have predicted that, in the next 25 years, we will not see a decrease in weddings or receptions. When you think about how much is spent and thrown away on weddings, it’s mind-boggling. None of it is ever used or repurposed – it’s just mass-produced. If we can say no to those things and use something that is sustainable, we’d be so much better off.”
Outside work, McCalla does everything she can – from recycling to washing and reusing Ziploc bags to being a vegetarian – to make sure she is being eco-friendly.

Professionally, she remains committed to educating people about the many environmental benefits of hosting green events.

“Whether it’s hosting a green event or living a greener lifestyle, it’s very important that people realize what an impact going green can have,” McCalla said. “If a lot more people realized it, we’d be in a better place. That’s why I offer what I offer.”
To learn more about going green and helping improve the region’s air quality, visit www.cleanair-stlouis.com or call the American Lung Association at (314) 645-5505, ext. 1007. For more information about Lucky You Productions, visit www.luckyyoustl.com.

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