Plan a Sustainable Event

A few small changes make a big difference when it comes to reducing your event's environmental impact. Here are our tips to help you plan a sustainable event:

Plan Ahead

Give yourself time to look for reusable, compostable or recyclable supplies-limited time may limit your sustainable product options. Tell your guests, presenters, vendors and exhibitors in advance that your event is sustainable. This will build awareness about sustainability at your event and your guests will be more likely to comply with your sustainable practices.

Go Paperless

Promote your event online rather than printing flyers or posters. Also consider emailing invitations, agendas, programs, booklets, comment forms, surveys and the like.

Say "No" to Single Serve

Purchase condiments like ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper and butter in bulk instead of in single-serve packets. The packaging for many single-serve condiments is not recyclable. Instead of offering disposable water bottles, serve tap water in a pitcher with reusable or compostable cups (or ask your guests to bring their own reusable water bottles).

Choose Food Service Items Wisely

Look for reusable items first, compostable items second and recyclable items third. Our checklist will help you decide what products to purchase for your sustainable event (or what items to request from your caterer):

Item Best Choice Second Choice Third Choice
Utensils Reusable Recyclable Plastic
Cups Reusable Certified Compostable Cans or Bottles
Dishware Reusable Paper or Certified Compostable
Stir Sticks Reusable Spoon Wood (Compostable)
Food Wrap, Containers or Packaging Reusable Paper Recyclable Plastic

Order Recycling and Organics Bins

Order Zero Waste bins to make sure your guests can properly dispose of recyclable and compostable items.

Where to Find …

Reusable Dishware

Ask your caterer to provide reusable dishware for your University of Alberta event or order it from Sustain SU's Reusable Dish Program. The program does not charge for dishes; however, a deposit may be necessary for large events.

Compostable Dishware

Purchase BPI Certified 100% Compostable products through the university’s preferred supplier agreement with Staples. Know what to look for when ordering by viewing the guide for best practices in disposable food ware.

Green Spaces for Events

There's more to planning a sustainable event than making it Zero Waste. The Green Spaces Program recognizes event planners who organize sustainable events. Learn how your U of A event or conference can become Green Spaces certified.

Sorting Waste at Your Event

Use our how-to guide to teach your guests how to use the Zero Waste station at your sustainable event!

Did You Know?

"Compostable" is not the same as "biodegradable." Compostable material breaks down rapidly in a commercial composter and does not leave toxic residue. Once it's broken down, we can use this compost in soil to support plant growth.

Biodegradable material may take several years to break down and may leave toxic residue.