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Green Event Guidelines

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. Choose food that is fair trade, local, or organic.

  • Consider cold food options to cut down on cooking and heating energy use.

  • 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.

  • Provide smaller plates so that people do not take more food than they will eat.

  • Use reusable spoons and bulk cream/creamer at the coffee station. Individual creamer cups are not recyclable.

  • Avoid individually wrapped condiment packets or snacks, such as individual chip bags or butter pads.

  • Avoid bottled water. Bulk tap water can be requested, or offer pitchers of water.

  • Avoid Styrofoam, even in disposable coffee/hot cups.

  • Avoid plastic packaging whenever possible. Plastic cutlery, straws, and plastic wrap are not recyclable.

  • Avoid all balloons.

  • Use reusable tablecloths.

  • 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 (compost), cotton string (compost), or paper banners/signage (recycle).

  • For on-campus events, utilize AU's zero waste bins (recycling, compost, landfill). To request waste bins, e-mail with (1) the event's location, (2) date/time, (3) number of 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 at least two weeks in advance. This is recommended for larger events (60+ attendees) where food is being served.

  • 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 them entirely, reducing the size or number of paper flyers, or printing on paper made from recycled content.

  • Give participants and presenters 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 to highlight commuting options. 

Need Assistance?

Contact the Office of Sustainability to learn more about how to plan a sustainable event.

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Need Waste Bins?

To request waste bins for an event, email 2fix with the location, date and time, number of attendees, and if you are serving food.

Contact 2fix