Sustainability

Sustainable Event Planning Guide

Whether you're hosting a short meeting or organizing a multi-day conference, event planning is an opportunity to promote and practice more sustainable communication methods, purchasing choices, dining habits, waste reduction techniques, transportation and energy usage. The following recommendations address different aspects of event planning, and are intended to ensure that your gathering is accessible to guests of all backgrounds and abilities while minimizing the use and disposal of natural resources.

Outreach and Promotion  
  • Promote events digitally through electronic media rather than print.
  • Ensure that digital materials are screen-reader compatible with captioned images or text alternatives.
  • Utilize color contrasts that are perceivable, use texture and patterns to show contrast, do not rely on color to convey a message.
  • Minimize the use of printed materials to the greatest extent possible. Activities requiring hand-written materials should utilize reusable surfaces, such as whiteboards.
  • Promotional, tabling and decorative items should be useful, reusable, durable, or have educational value. These products should be sustainably sourced (e.g. made locally or with recycled materials) whenever possible.
  • Be sure to communicate all sustainable event procedures and practices to participating individuals, departments, companies and organizations.
  • Include information about how to request accommodations and/or provide information about planned accommodations (e.g. ASL interpretation) and accessible entrances.
Equity, Diversity and Accessibility 
  • Ensure gender inclusive restrooms are within easy access and clearly identified.
  • Invite a diverse group of people to serve on the planning committee to develop an event that will meet the needs of a broad audience and encourage greater participation.
  • Select a location that is accessible for all. Consider routes, bathrooms, automatic doors, lighting, outdoor barriers and signage.
  • Ensure adequate space within meeting areas for sign language interpreters, service animals, wheelchair and other assistive device maneuverability, and companion seating.
  • Depending on the length of the event, identify and provide signage for appropriate lactation space.
Food and Beverage Service                 
  • Select food vendors who can minimize packaging (e.g. buffet-style serving over individually packaged meals), and whose products are produced locally and sustainably.
  • Utilize reusable kitchenware (plates, utensils, cups, containers, platters, straws, beverage dispensers/tap) whenever possible, deferring to compostable and recyclable items if reusable options are not feasible.
  • When ordering food and beverages, carefully plan quantities to avoid having excess food at the end of the event. Leftovers should be stored for later consumption or offered to attendees, campus and community organizations. Leftovers that cannot be donated or eaten should be composted rather than disposed of in a landfill.
  • Food should appeal to a range of dietary needs (e.g., food allergies, medical conditions, religious practices and cultural diversity).
Recycling, Waste and Compost           
  • Ensure proper waste bins with clear signage are available for compostables, bottles and cans, paper and landfill materials.
Transportation and Accommodations  
  • Prioritize venues that reduce transportation needs and enable alternative transportation modes (public transit, carpool, vanpool, bike, walking). The proximity of the venue to any necessary overnight accommodations should also be considered.
Presentation/Activity Modes and Materials  
  • Videos used should be captioned.
  • Utilize reusable writing surfaces such as whiteboards or digital devices rather than paper.
  • Provide an array of formats of materials being used and distributed. Create scree-reader friendly PDF's of materials (mobile devices are equipped with screen readers). Consider large print and braille needs. Place materials online in advance of the event and/or provide pre-recorded audio of the presentations.
  • Slides should be in 18 point sans serif font or larger, use high contrast colors and not be overly cluttered.
  • Provide CART (real-time captioning), ASL interpretation and/or other assistive devices for persons with hearing impairments.
Electricity 
  • If power is needed outdoors, utilize renewable sources such as CSUN's DC Solar trailers.
  • Remember to return all lights, projectors, HVAC systems and other equipment to their 'off' or regularly scheduled state at the end of the event.

View presentation slides on sustainable event planning here