Sustainable Checklist for Event Planners


Sustainable Checklist for Event Planners


Tips from Emily Williams

Finding sustainable caterers is not easy and I should know because I’ve been coordinating meetings, conferences, wedding, parties and festivals for years, and believe me, most caterers will get away with what they can to stretch their margins. So, here’s a list to things to consider if you want to be a conscious event planner.

  • Ensure your caterer can accept final numbers three days before your event as this minimises food waste
  • Avoid giving lots of meal options to your attendees unless you are collecting their food choices in advance as this creates loads of food waste on the day
  • Book caterers that produce fresh, locally sourced food on seasonal menus
  • Use Fair trade teas, coffee, sugar
  • Use organic milk and offer plant-based milk as an option in jugs only
  • Now, this is controversial however I am of the opinion that for conferences and similarly large events, use recycled and compostable disposables and insist on one-cup usage by delegates. Why use disposables as surely crockery and cutlery is best? Well, from experience each conference delegate uses approx. 6 – 8 cups for various refreshments and several saucers & spoons per event and that excludes the catering! Add to this the low-wages hospitality staff earn and you can quickly see how conference catering is arguably very poor for the environment and society: the costs of cheap crockery production, detergent production and use, the water wastage, the energy required to clean items, the energy used to clear the toxins from the waste water, and on and on. Does this add up to a greater cost overall than the production and use of 1 or 2 compostable cups per person per event? One for you to consider.
  • Lower budget? Use recycled and compostable disposables only, such as wooden forks and plant-based plates
  • Provide drinking water in jugs at a refreshment station
  • Ensure snacks are consciously produced and healthy
  • Use reusable tablecloths and napkins
  • Check that your caterer pays the Real Living Wage to their staff and remember, agency hospitality staff are not paid the RLW
  • Book your event in a non-profit or charitable venue as they’re more likely to have ethical practices and use sustainable suppliers
  • Ideally serve a vegan or vegetarian buffet and if you are having meat options, expect to pay more for sustainably-produced meat
  • Provide clearly-labelled waste bins to encourage recycling and composting
  • Compost the food waste or have a contingency plan for left-over food – offer to staff or make arrangements for collection from a food waster redistribution service like Olio