Food Beverages

Utensils – Minimize unnecessary utensils and paper products. A great amount of waste at events derives from packaging. Consider the following:

  • Serve food items that don’t require utensils
  • Ask your caterer to provide compostable options for plates, cups, and flatware
  • When using disposable tableware, use items labeled with recycling codes #1-7
  • Avoid Styrofoam containers
  • Keep unused napkins for future events
  • Plated dinners on reusable dinnerware are the most sustainable because the plates can be reused and dinners can be portioned properly for the exact number of attendees
  • Avoid using doilies or other disposable decorations


  • Make use of campus catering and other on-campus resources to save gas on delivery
  • Use local or organic products whenever possible
  • Ask your caterer if they serve humanely raised meat and offer sustainable seafood options
  • Consider serving vegetarian or vegan meals. Beef production is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption
  • When providing the caterer with an attendee estimate, avoid ordering more food than is reasonably needed
  • Avoid serving boxed lunches
  • Serve food on platters that can be reused or dishes that are soy-based
  • Avoid individually packaged snacks such as chips and ice cream sandwiches. Ask your caterer to purchase these products in bulk and serve in reusable bowls
  • Avoid using individually packaged condiments. Use bulk pumps instead
  • Take excess food home or donate it to a shelter after the event. Keep large and medium sized reusable containers and/or tinfoil in the office and use them to take home leftovers, or donate what’s left to a local shelter. Be sure to check the leftover food policy with your catering company


  • Serve bulk beverages with glassware or with compostable cups
  • Serve Fair Trade certified beverages, such as coffee or tea
  • If serving alcoholic beverages, investigate sustainably brewed beer and biodynamic wines
  • Ask your caterer to pour water only upon request
  • If bottled water is necessary, use refillable water coolers instead of offering individual bottles
  • Avoid using single-use stir sticks for coffee and tea, and offer reusable spoons instead