Tips for low-waste events and conferences

Tips for low-waste events and conferences

I’ve attended a number of different events and conferences over the years and I think there’s a lot of waste that happens at these events from food waste, unwanted freebies, printed brochures and disposable cutlery and cups.

Here are some of my tips to help reduce waste if you’re organizing events:

  • Use reusable glasses, cups, plates, cutlery
  • Use teaspoons instead of wooden or plastic stirrers
  • Don’t give out straws unless someone asks for it or provide metal/bamboo ones
  • Provide tea bags without any packaging or paper packaging and ground coffee from a machine instead of plastic pods
  • Provide jugs of water (or any beverage) instead of plastic bottles. Even glass is better than plastic.
  • Use tongs or reusable spoons for appetizers instead of toothpicks
  • Don’t give away plastic freebies or no freebies at all – if you must have them, try recycled paper notebooks, a mug to be used throughout the event that the participant can carry around with them, a relevant book or e-book, discount code to a relevant book, etc
  • If possible, try not to brand the year on stuff such as t-shirts. I used to own so many volunteer shirts that I could only wear to sleep. Or lanyards that had the year so you couldn’t reuse but I had no use for them after the event.
  • A place to compost tea bags, fruit cores, leftover food etc
  • Take back the lanyards and plastic name badge holders to reuse in the future
  • Print one agenda per table or just send it digitally instead of one per person
  • Use recycled paper napkins or reusable cloth napkins
  • Use local and sustainable catering
  • Provide more vegetarian/plant-based options for food (people don’t even notice if it’s vegetarian or not)

At a recent event…

I was at an event recently and they did certain things well like provide real plates and cutlery, but in the coffee and tea area, it was a lot of coffee pods and tea bags wrapped in plastic and disposable cups.

We can do better!

Do you organize events? What kind of things would you consider when organizing a low waste event?