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Green Your Events

Earth Day 2009 fair events

The Green Team, the Green Living Program and the Events Scheduling and Support Office have partnered to bring you a "Green Events Guide," which contains tips for almost every aspect of event planning for the green events beginner to the expert.  Browse tips below, or click on the image below to download the full Green Events guide.  E-mail any feedback or questions to sustainability@law.harvard.edu.   

 

Quick Tips for Greening Your Event or Meeting

Brought to you by the Green Team and the Events Scheduling and Support Office

Beginner Tips 

Intermediate Tips

Advanced Tips

Beginner Tips

  • Serve pitchers of filtered tap water instead of bottled water.  Ask Restaurant Associates (catering@law.harvard.edu) for pitchers of water which is also less expensive than serving individual bottles; purchase a few pitchers if you host frequent events/meetings. RA also offers FREE water for any catering order over $100 – contact RA when booking your event to take advantage of this deal
  • Before  your event check that there is a recycling bin paired with every trash bin.  Check that the recycling bin is clearly labeled.  If not, call Facilities at 617-495-5521 or contact facmgmt@law.harvard.edu. For comprehensive signs tailored to your event contact sustainability@lists.law.harvard.edu.
  • Print only what is needed. Double-side all printed meeting & event handouts.  Reduce the number of pages by reducing margins and line spacing and use soy-based ink.  If possible, e-mail out or post materials online before or after the event, instead of printing.  Avoid automatically printing PowerPoint slides, print only if your handouts will truly be read.
  • Know which common event items are recyclable:
    • Pizza Boxes- empty of pizza, napkins, etc; grease stains are ok.  Leave boxes stacked next to a recycling bin.
    • Plastic plates from RA catered events- remove excess food, residual food/grease ok.
    • Paper plates/cups (e.g. paper coffee cups)- remove excess food and liquid, residual ok.
    • Metal trays (e.g. take-out hot meals)- remove excess food, residual ok.
  • Know which common event items are NOT recyclable and make event purchases accordingly:
    • Plastic utensils.
    • Foam of any kind (even if it has a recycling symbol on it), including foam cups/plates.
    • Napkins- these must be trashed, unless you’re composting (see below).
  • Don’t book more space than you will actually need. HLS Facilities lights and heats/conditions space depending on the time you have reserved the space. Carefully look at your schedule and determine the appropriate space and time needed for the reservation to save energy (i.e. unnecessary heating/cooling and lighting when a space is empty).
  • After your event turn off all lights and equipment.

Intermediate Tips

  • Strive to have as little food waste as possible.   Order carefully and when appropriate encourage attendees to bring reusable containers to take home leftovers e.g. in an e-mail to attendees before the event.  This works particularly well for standing meetings.
  • Compost! Check out the "Event Compost" section of our Compost page to learn more.
  • At the beginning or end of your meeting/event, encourage attendees to recycle all paper, newspaper, cardboard, cans, bottles, and the above recyclable items.  A full recycling guide can be found on our Recycling page.
  • Offer vegetarian options (meat production has a high carbon footprint).
  • Serve food and condiments in bulk instead of single serve packets (e.g. choose or ask for items that are not individually wrapped, provide a pint of half & half instead of individual creamers, etc).

Advanced Tips

  • Remind attendees to bring their own reusable cups/mugs, where applicable.
  • Choose sustainable dishware options: 
    • Use reusable dishware whenever possible.  If renting reusable dishware is prohibitively expensive, consider acquiring a set of reusable items for events/meetings.  Have office/organization members bring in old dishes from home, or buy inexpensive, gently used items from Goodwill.
    • Purchase compostable products! You may purchase compostable plates, cups and utensils at cost for your events through a pilot program sponsored by the HLS Sustainability Program.  Items will be billed directly to your organization and the HLS Sustainability Program Manager will be in touch with directions for picking up items. Fill out the order form online.  
  • Make an effort to limit, or exclude, the distribution of give-away items at events.  If deemed necessary, find the most environmentally preferable and functional items (e.g. useful items that contain recycled content, have organic fiber, and/or are locally produced).
Last modified: October 09, 2014

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