Before the Event

As you’ll discover, the majority of what makes an event green requires planning prior to the event itself. Plus, you can make the planning process green as well.

Here are some suggestions –

Organizing and planning

  • Print double-sided or use scrap paper for checklists and materials when organizing your event
  • Use whiteboards or a flat screen TV to post important information during planning sessions rather than printing meeting handouts

If handouts are required

  • Use paper made with a high percentage of post-consumer material
  • Print double-sided
  • Use soy-based ink

Communicating with guests

  • Provide an accessible drop-off point for materials to be reused or recycled after the meeting ends
  • Use only electronic communication (such as email, facebook, etc.) for invitations, event registration, announcements and updates
  • Ask event participants to bring their own coffee mugs and water cups, as well as paper and writing utensils
  • Encourage guests to stay at sustainability-minded hotels (See a list of suggestions in the Transportation and Accommodation section) and take green transportation to the event (public transit, bike, hybrid rental vehicles, etc.). Provide sustainable transportation resources like public transit schedules and carpooling services

Inform your caterer that you’re planning a green event

  • Ask for compostable or recyclable serving ware if you’re having a more casual event, or reusable dishware if you’re having a more formal event
  • Avoid boxed meals and individually packaged foods (chips, cookies, etc.)
  • For formal events, ask servers to pour water only on request. For casual events, provide water stations instead of individual water bottles
  • Avoid serving meat, especially beef which is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption
  • Serve local, organic, Fair Trade certified and humanely raised food
  • Provide reusable drink ware and utensils, and use bulk condiment serving containers to reduce the use of single use products
  • Ask caterers to provide signage explaining how they contributed in making the event green (such as sustainable food offerings, a limited waste plan, etc.)

Reusable décorr

  • Use live herbs and other plants for centerpieces and offer them to guests to take with them after the event
  • Use materials that can be reused for future events (signage, name tags, general handouts, etc.)
  • Support the community by asking local vendors or schools to donate artwork and use the art pieces for decorations instead of paper decorations
  • Use fruit baskets, locally grown flowers, or decorative water and stone vases for centerpieces
  • Use LED lights
  • Minimize the use of petroleum-based candles
  • Use reusable table linens to cover tables. If reusable linens are not available, use unbleached butcher paper and  compost them after your event

Waste management

  • Create a recycling/waste plan (see chart below). Contact the Events Office or Facilities Management to help coordinate the delivery, set up, and pick up of waste bins
  • Plan your event as a zero waste event (zero waste events mean that all waste produced from the event is either recycled or composted)
  • Employ proper signage and have staff assist attendees with using the appropriate waste bin.

Other considerations

  • If you must use portable electricity, it’s best to use a bio-diesel generator. Contact the Events Office for details on rentals and operating instructions
  • Always communicate your sustainability goals with vendors
  • Upload presentations onto USB flash drives for your guests, or post them online following the event rather than printing hardcopies
  • Purchase gifts or giveaways that are recycled or can be reused