Climate change is regarded as one of the most severe threats to human health. It is now one of the most talked-about topics on social media, in politics and in public discourse. This is reflected in the growing demand for plant-based food, low waste living and plastic alternatives. Positive changes are encouraged across all industries, including events and conferences. Food and beverage is often one of the most anticipated elements of any gathering and should be one of the principal factors considered when planning a sustainable event. Here are some tips to cater your event in a more sustainable, eco-friendly manner.
Climate change and zero waste are no longer just topics for “eco-warriors,” but have well and truly entered the mainstream. People want to see where their food is coming from and a focus on provenance is encouraged no matter what type of event you’re planning. It provides reassurance that food is locally sourced and doesn’t have a huge carbon footprint as well as reinforces health and safety protocols are being followed. More and more people are searching for seals such as organic, fair trade, and sustainable fishing – all practices that consider the environment in all stages of production. When planning an event menu, transparency is key.
Waste Not Want Not
Zero or low waste should be a main factor to consider when catering an event. There are many ways to reduce waste at events from food waste to packaging and utensils. Asking guests to pre-order food in advance of the event is one way to reduce the amount of food waste. Only purchasing and preparing exactly what you need, ensuring that the highest quality ingredients are used, means fewer meals are disposed of at the end of the event. If you can, avoid buffet-style food and donate surplus meals to local shelters or charities to reuse. Meal plans can be scheduled flexibly and individually in advance, meaning guests can cater to their own dietary needs with minimal fuss.
Food preparation and packaging, utensils and non-reusable goods all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprints. Event planners should reduce or completely eliminate single-use plastics, encourage the sourcing of sustainable food and invest in making every event as sustainable as possible. Using compostable packaging to reduce waste and cut down on plastic. At events, this may mean using edible food packaging or cutting out utensils completely by serving finger food. Aside from catering, cutting out goodie bags stuffed full of useless, gimmicky freebies will reduce plastic waste even further.
Offer a Variety of Menu Options
Remember that not everyone attending your event eats meat – and many may not wish to eat at all. The rise of plant-based meals and meat alternatives has not just been supplemented by vegetarians and vegans. More and more meat-eaters and cutting down on their meant consumption and choosing veggie-based meals more often. Offer guests a more sustainable, delicious veggie-based option as their main course and you’ll be surprised how many guests will choose it – vegan or not. Milk alternatives are now a necessity for events. Do some research and decide for yourself which non-dairy alternative best suits your event and is best for the environment. Many dairy consumers won’t notice or care when presented with a cup of coffee made with a dairy alternative.
Choosing a menu packed full of local, seasonal produce not only lowers your carbon footprint but can save you money. Seasonal produce grows in abundance, making it easier for you to source and cheaper for you to purchase. When you choose fruits, vegetables and produce that is out of season, it has to be grown artificially and transported, often across oceans, to get to its final destination. These practices are damaging for all areas involved and can cost much more than local, seasonal food. Rotating fruits and vegetables into your event menu when they are at their ripest shows guests you care about sustainable practices. The food is also fresher and tastes better when allowed to mature on the vine or in the ground before being moved.
If you’d like to plan an event in one of Dublin’s premier event and conference spaces, contact our team in DCU. We cater everything from small board meetings to large-scale awards and events in the most sustainable way possible and are always on the lookout for ways to improve. Contact our friendly team today to learn more about hosting your event in our Dublin event venue.