Planning for a Sustainable and Zero Waste event starts before you place your catering orders. To host a Sustainable and Zero Waste event, consider the guidelines below.
Ask vendors/caterers about their sustainability commitments, such as reducing waste or sourcing locally.
Offer at least one vegetarian and/or vegan option.
Avoid individually wrapped condiment packets or snacks, such as individual chip bags or butter pads.
Buy food in bulk as much as possible to avoid excess packaging.
Offer reusable kitchenware. Compostable plates and utensils are the next best option. Avoid individual plastic-wrapped cutlery packets.
Choose food that is fair trade, local, or organic.
Avoid bottled water. Bulk tap water can be requested, or offer pitchers of water.
Provide smaller plates so that people do not take more food than they will eat.
Consider cold food options to cut down on cooking and heating energy use.
Avoid Styrofoam, even in disposable coffee/hot cups.
Avoid plastic packaging whenever possible. Plastic cutlery, straws, and plastic wrap are not recyclable.
Use reusable spoons and bulk cream/creamer at the coffee station. Individual creamer cups are not recyclable.
Avoid all balloons.
Use reusable table cloths.
Choose decorations that can be stored and reused such as non-date-specific banners, cloth ribbons, or vase centerpieces. Renting these items is also a great option.
If you decorate with flowers or plants, choose potted plants that can be gifted or planted. Loose flowers should be sourced locally and organically and composted at the end of their life.
Plan to properly recycle or compost all decorations such as paper streamers (paper), cotton string (compost), or paper banners/signage (paper).
On campus, offer the zero waste containers. To request waste bins, e-mail email@example.com with (1) location, (2) time/date, (3) # attendees, and (4) if you are serving food.
Ensure that all of the materials from the event are recycled, reused, or composted.
Make a plan to donate unopened, leftover food and beverages.
Place staff at waste collection points to ensure proper sorting of recyclables, compostables, and other waste. If you wish to have waste stations staffed by sustainability interns, email firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks in advance. This is recommended for events larger than 60 people that are serving food.
Provide information or signage about the green aspects of the event. For specific waste items, it's best to make a "housekeeping" announcement at the beginning.
Reduce the impact of promotional flyers and handouts by either eliminating entirely, reducing the size or number of paper flyers, or printing on recycled content paper.
Participants and presenters are given the opportunity to distribute resources and communications electronically.
- Invite guests to bring their own water bottle, coffee mug, or reusable utensils.
- Encourage guests to walk, carpool, or use public transportation. Utilize www.american.edu/transportation to highlight commuting options