Sustainable Event Guide

Are you organising or holding an event at the University?  Would you like to know how to make it more sustainable?  We've got some hints and tips below - but don't forget to visit the University's main events planning pages for more information!



Go re-useable and remove single-use items

From an environmental point of view, it's best to go re-useable where you can and remove single-use items completely!  Delivered catering can be supplied with re-useable china for serving tea and coffee; or you could request that paper/plastic cups are not automatically supplied and then encourage event delegates to bring their own re-useable mug/cup.  If you regularly have small functions, such as meetings, consider whether your department might be willing to purchase its own set of re-useable mugs/cups for these gatherings.

Drinking tap water has a much lower environmental impact than providing bottled water.  There are plenty of places to refill water bottles on campus; and Catering have created this handy hydration map, so why not consider letting your event delegates have a copy.  If you are hosting your event inside, consider arranging for some jugs of tap water to be provided, along with re-useable glasses/cups, which can be refilled throughout your event, rather than having bottles of water.  You could also consider purchasing a set of re-useable cups or Sustain-it bottles (on sale at our catering venues), which you could keep and re-use at different events.

If you are hosting your event outside, or are hosting a very large event, it is possible to arrange for an external water fountain to be supplied in certain locations (e.g. for Graduations, Open Days, Dome events etc) - contact for information.  Please provide as much notice as possible if you would like to investigate this option.

If you can't avoid providing bottled water, please encourage people to refill their bottle and re-use it; and when no longer needed, all types of plastic bottle can be recycled in the University's green-lidded mixed recycling bins.

Be a recycling champion

Be a recycling champion for your event and plan ahead - if you need extra bins these can usually be booked via the Porters, contact, who also have special paper cup recycling bins that you can borrow.  If you need something more significant, such as skips or wheelie bins, contact - we can help you book what you need.  Please also help your event delegates to recycle by pointing out where their closest set of recycling bins are; and what they can recycle in them.  Most internal and external bins have now been upgraded with labels that show what should go in each bin; however, there is also additional information here.

Get energy and water smart - even in a centrally booked room!

In many buildings, we've undertaken a lot of work to help you be energy-smart without you even knowing!  The University has already installed more efficient types of lighting, such as LEDs, where possible (especially during refurbishments); and lighting in some spaces is on sensors or timers to be more efficient.  However, where it's not on sensors, please remember to switch off lights, switch off equipment and close windows when you've finished your booking.  Heating is centrally controlled to be more efficient; and water-saving measures have been put in place in many buildings.  Find out more about the different energy and water efficiency projects here; and look-up the energy use of the building you are in on the Sustainability website here.

Print and purchase only what you need

Think before you print - could your event go digital and therefore not need to print materials?  If you do need to print literature, only print what you need for the actual number of delegates, rather than undertaking a bulk print run; this will save on print costs and disposal costs, as well as reducing the environmental impact.  Similarly, when you are purchasing any other materials or resources for your event, only buy what you know you'll need.

Speak to your contractors and exhibitors

If your event involves external contractors (e.g. to assemble a marquee), or you are inviting exhibitors to attend (e.g. to a careers showcase), then encourage them to:

  • Bring re-useable items, and avoid single-use products, if possible.
  • Try to reduce the amount of waste produced by planning ahead.
  • Know where they can recycle, and what can be recycled.
  • Switch off any equipment when not in use, to save water/electricity.
  • Reduce vehicle travel where possible (e.g. grouping deliveries on to one vehicle).

Please also ensure that contractors who will be working with chemicals/fuels/oils bring an appropriate spill kit, and know how to use it.  If there is a spill they need to clear it up; but also make sure it's reported by following the environmental incident procedure.  If there is a spill and you or the contractor are having problems clearing it up, contact Estates on x7000 (8am-4pm) or Security on x7799 (out of hours) promptly for help.

Be Fairtrade with delivered catering

The University has a commitment, as part of its Fairtrade Pledge, to make Fairtrade foods and drink (for example tea and coffee) available, wherever possible, through hospitality catering to all Schools and Directorates.  So, if you are ordering food and drink for your event through University Catering you are taking part in a Fairtrade revolution - this helps make a difference to both the farmers producing the products and to the environment.  Find out more about the University and Fairtrade here.  There is also more information about sustainability and University Catering here

Travel sustainably

Help event attendees to travel sustainably to your event by signposting them to the sustainable travel information here, particularly within pre-event invitations and delegate information.

Enjoy the green campus

The University has three beautiful green campuses. Whiteknights campus has won a Green Flag award for multiple consecutive years.  Please help care for the campuses by ensuring all litter is removed after your event; and please do not pour anything down external drains (all surface water drains go to the lake on Whiteknights campus or to the River Thames at Greenlands campus).  If you have any concerns about how your event might impact the natural environment on campus, please contact us via

Most importantly, enjoy the green spaces that the campuses offer!

Need help? Get in touch!

Don't forget that we are here to help, from little matters to big complex events - contact us via

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