Green Event Planning

A Green Event Planner considers sustainability at all stages of the event planning and infuses it into the experience for attendees. Individuals who are responsible for planning events for their department, office or group can receive training on sustainability concepts and resources for conducting an event that reduces waste and environmental impacts. See below for a Green Event resource round-up.

What is a green event?

A green event is one that is organized with the goal of minimizing waste and promoting sustainable actions. A green event is not simply limited to recycling alone; it goes beyond that by taking a “whole systems” approach to the vast flow of resources and waste that can be generated in organizing an event. This whole systems approach aims to first reduce the total amount of resources being used including material and energy resources, then encourages the reuse of resources that can be reused, and lastly makes sure that materials are disposed of properly through recycling or composting as much as possible. At the Homewood campus, zero-waste event is defined more narrowly: all waste is either composted or recycled.

Why should I green my event?

To achieve the university’s broad sustainability goals, it is critical that every division, department, office and group support this commitment and do their part. Because events consume so many resources and generate so much waste they are a strategic place to start. And let’s face it; green events are more fun and make everyone feel virtuous!

How can I green my event?

The Office of Sustainability and Homewood Recycling offer a number of resources to support your green event planning. The Green Event Planning Guide has simple steps you can take to minimize waste and promote sustainability before, during, and after your event, and connects you to appropriate resources that can help. 

The Green Caterers Directory includes Baltimore area caterers who demonstrate a strong commitment to environmental responsibility. All caterers in the directory offer substantial vegetarian options, provide compostable cups, plates, and flatware at no additional cost, offer beverage pitchers or bubblers as an alternative to individual drinks, and have eliminated Styrofoam products. If you choose a green caterer for your Homewood event, and all materials are recyclable or compostable, your event is certified zero-waste and the standard charge for wastebins will be waived for you. The Homewood Zero-Waste Event Planning Guide outlines specific steps to take in zero-waste event planning.

Educate your guests on how to sort their waste and promote your efforts using a powerpoint slide and/or table tents.

The process to request recycling and composting bins varies by campus. See the Campuses and Contacts section of the website for your campus's particular process.

Free Food Alert

The Homewood campus offers a Free Food Alert service, which connects JHU affiliates with free food left over from catered events on the Homewood campus to reduce food waste. Homewood students, staff, and faculty members can subscribe to receive alerts. 

Who is eligible to post a free food alert? Any JHU affiliate that is involved with catered events on campus is eligible to use this tool. We encourage all students, staff, and faculty that regularly coordinate events with food to use this tool to diminish food waste. If you are interested, start by creating a profile. Please note that these profiles must be approved by the program coordinator. Individuals must undergo a 30 minute training on how to utilize the tool before being approved to post events.

How does it work? Event planners can log in and use the platform to send out a Free Food Alert to subscribers when the event is over and guests/attendees are finished eating. The event planner fills in some information about the event (number of portions left, location, menu, etc.) and the Free Food Alert gets sent to all subscribers.

Subscribers receive an email and/or text message about the giveaway and can RSVP using a thumbs up or thumbs down. There is a 15+ minute window to pick up the food. The time frame is short in order to minimize inconvenience to event planner and catering staff. If food runs out before the 15+ minute window is over, the event planner can send out another alert to indicate that the giveaway is over early. We suggest you request to-go containers from your caterer so food can be easily taken by those who respond to the alert.

What happens if the food is not picked up? In the unfortunate case that subscribers do not come to pick up the food or there is still food waste left over from the event, it is up to the event planner to decide what to do with the remaining food. If the food cannot be taken by the event planner we recommend that it be composted.

Ideas in Action

Think before you print.

Office paper is highly recyclable, but a lot gets wasted. Waste reduction is more cost-effective than recycling because it reduces the amount of material that needs to be collected, transported and processed.