Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, December 2016

Six Tips for Giving Your Holiday Gathering a Green Glow

Tis the season for holiday events and gatherings. With just a little bit of upfront planning, you can host a low or zero waste, green event.

The ideal green meeting creates little or no waste and incorporates environmental considerations throughout the planning process.  It’s easier than it sounds.  So LiveGreen this holiday season. Below are details on six easy tips for hosting an eco-friendly event:

• Request recycling and composting bins;
• Pick a green leaf caterer from America To Go (ATG) or an on-campus caterer;
• Request re-usable containers for water, coffee, and tea;
• Skip the beef;
• Say no to box lunches; and
• No Styrofoam; avoid plastic dishware and cutlery when possible.

Tip #1:  Request Recycling and Composting Bins

This first tip is easy and can have a big impact. When you reserve your venue or meeting room, let Facilities Services (CLS FS) know you will need Recycle and Compost bins with signage. FS will provide the appropriate receptacles (Blue=Recycle, Green=Compost, Black=Landfill).

Announce at the event start, “We’re hosting a zero waste event.  Please compost your plates, napkins, and cups and recycle your flatware.  Thank you for helping UCSF reach our zero waste goal!”

If an announcement is not possible, place a sign near the food with the message—you can use this Zero Waste Sign template for your sign.

Tip #2:  Pick a Green Caterer

Pulling off a green event will be much easier if you select a caterer familiar with UCSF’s LivingGreen Event Guide When possible, give preference to on-campus caterers, such as Moffitt Long Catering, Aramark at Mission Bay Conference Center or UCSF Restaurants, which are already implementing many green practices. 

If you use an off-campus catering service, look for vendors with the green leaf icon on the America Go/BearBuy website. These are vendors that have been certified by the Office of Sustainability as meeting UCSF’s zero waste and sustainable food requirements.

Tip #3:  Request Reusable Containers for Water, Coffee, and Tea

Eliminating plastic water bottles is a simple way to green your event.

Serve drinking water in pitchers or at water stations. This reduces the carbon footprint and the amount of waste produced. Avoid single serve beverages, especially sodas and sport drinks. Food and Water Watch offers a resource to help you plan a bottle-free event called Free Your Event from Bottled Water. Provide coffee and tea in reusable dispensers. Avoid the cardboard coffee and tea dispensers. Tip #4: Skip the Beef You can make a difference by avoiding beef in your menu and replacing it with vegetables, poultry, or fish. Whenever possible, eliminate meat and offer vegetarian meals. Cattle processing is a major cause of greenhouse gases, in part because of the methane produced by the animals and also due to the deforestation of the rainforests for cattle ranching. Reduce food waste; notify hungry students if there is leftover food, using!/FreeFoodatMBay or Tip #5:  Say No to Box Lunches Avoid boxed meals. If sandwiches are served, have bread and sandwich fillings on platters. Or serve pre-made sandwiches on platters. If lunches must be pre-made, use paper bags in cardboard box trays. Whenever possible, serve chips, salads and other items in large bowls for self-service. Tip #6:  Avoid Plastic Dishware and Cutlery When Possible and No Styrofoam Request re-usable dishware and cutlery or use Compostable products that are Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI)-certified. World Centric has truly compostable cutlery options that are clearly labeled ”compostable.” Remember that paper cups, plates, and napkins can all be composted. If you need clear “plastic” cups, look for ones with a green band, which indicates they are a Compostable item, rather than a Recyclable one. If you must use petroleum-based plastic cups or cutlery, make sure people know they are recyclable. And no polystyrene foam (Styrofoam). The City and County of San Francisco prohibits serving food in polystyrene foam containers.  At UCSF, all caterers from outside San Francisco are expected to avoid using polystyrene foam service ware. Seeking Staff to Implement Green Events If planning events is a big part of your job responsibilities, consider our upcoming program to get certified as a UCSF Green Event Planner. Keep your eyes out for details early next year.  Or email your interest to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), and details will be sent to you once they are finalized.