Booking an event at HLS? Follow these tips to make it fun and sustainable!

Beginner Tips

  1. Serve pitchers of filtered tap water instead of bottled water. Ask Restaurant Associates for pitchers of water—less expensive than serving individual bottles. Purchase a few pitchers if you host frequent events/meetings. RA also offers FREE water for any catering order over $100.
  2. Before your event check that there is a recycling bin paired with every trash bin. Check that the recycling bin is clearly labeled. If not, call Facilities at 617-495-5521 or contact For comprehensive signs tailored to your event contact
  3. Print only what is needed. Double-side all printed meeting and event handouts. Reduce the number of pages by reducing margins and line spacing and use soy-based ink. If possible, email or post materials online before or after the event, instead of printing. 
  4. Know which common event items are recyclable
    Pizza Boxes (empty of pizza, napkins, etc; grease stains are ok) 
    Plastic plates from RA catered events
    Paper plates, cups, and coffee cups
    Metal trays (take-out hot meals)
  5. Know which common event items are NOT recyclable and make event purchases accordingly:
    Plastic utensils

    Foam of any kind (even if it has a recycling symbol on it), including foam cups/plates​
    Napkins; these must be trashed, unless you’re composting
  6. Don’t book more space than you will actually need. HLS Facilities lights and heats/conditions space depending on the time you have reserved the space. Carefully look at your schedule and determine the appropriate space and time needed for the reservation to save energy.
  7. After your event turn off all lights and equipment.

Intermediate Tips

  1. Strive to have as little food waste as possible. Order carefully and when appropriate encourage attendees to bring reusable containers to take home leftovers. This works particularly well for standing meetings.
  2. Compost! More information
  3. Remind and encourage attendees to compost or recycle, at the beginning or end of your meeting or event.
  4. Offer vegetarian options (meat production has a high carbon footprint).
  5. Serve food and condiments in bulk instead of single serve packets (choose or ask for items that are not individually wrapped, provide a pint of half & half instead of individual creamers, etc).

Advanced Tips

  1. Remind attendees to bring their own reusable cups/mugs.
  2. Choose sustainable dishware options: Use reusable dishware whenever possible. If renting reusable dishware is prohibitively expensive, consider acquiring a set of reusable items for events/meetings. Have office/organization members bring in old dishes from home, or buy inexpensive, gently used items from Goodwill.
  3. Purchase compostable products! You may purchase compostable plates, cups, and utensils at cost for your events through a pilot program sponsored by the HLS Sustainability Program.  Items will be billed directly to your organization and the HLS Sustainability Program Manager will be in touch with directions for picking up items. Fill out the order form online
  4. Make an effort to limit, or exclude, the distribution of give-away items at events.  If deemed necessary, find the most environmentally preferable and functional items (useful items that contain recycled content, have organic fiber, and/or are locally produced).