Post contributed by Joan Hicken, Coordinator, Waste Reduction and Recycling Department
Auburn University’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Department is working to increase the university’s efforts to be more sustainable. We are committed to integrating sustainability into all aspects of campus life, including events. Sustainability is defined as meeting human needs in a fair, just and equitable way that enables future generations to meet their own needs, while protecting and maintaining healthy ecosystems in perpetuity.
Events are fun but they are also resource intensive and can generate a lot of waste. Having a green event demonstrates your organization’s commitment to the environment, the university and its Climate Action Plan. A green event raises awareness about resource conservation and encourages attendees to act more sustainably.
The intent of a green event is to minimize waste and boost sustainable behavior. The aim is to reduce the amount of resources being used, including material resources, encourage the reuse of resources that can be reused, and ensure that materials are disposed of properly, diverting recyclables from the waste stream.
When planning your event, consider waste prevention and evaluate opportunities to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place. For example, go paperless. Use electronic communication for invitations, registration, announcements and event updates. Waste prevention can provide both economic and environmental benefits.
Think about what wastes will be generated during your event and find out what can be collected for recycling. We currently accept plastic containers (like water and soda bottles, sport drink bottles, milk/tea/lemonade jugs), aluminum cans and steel/tin cans. Trash cans and recycling containers should be placed next to each other, convenient and accessible from any location at the event.
It’s easy to green your event:
- Use electronic communication for invitations, registration, announcements and event updates
- If you have to print, use post-consumer recycled content paper and print on both sides
- Use reusable event décor
- Limit giveaways and promotional items; make them meaningful and reusable: water bottles, mugs, tote bags
- Avoid single-use items and excess packaging
- Choose reusable items like plates, utensils, cups, napkins, tablecloths
- Serve local, seasonal food; offer vegetarian options
- Donate leftover food
- Offer, promote and use recycling containers; inform guests of recycling opportunities
Order trash cans and recycling bins for your event. The Waste Reduction and Recycling Department provides trash cans for a fee and recycling bins at no charge for campus events. Call 844-9461 for more information.