Monday, July 8, 2013

Checklist for Catering an Eco-Friendly Green Event

photo by Piknik Studios

Whether you are catering your eco-frienldy wedding or green event yourself or working with a venue and or caterer, you can make a more environmentally friendly event simply by reducing your 'food miles', which means the distance that the food has traveled from the paddock to the plate. The main reason for minimising food miles is that the transport of food significantly contributes to greenhouse gas production.

Here are some key things to consider when you plan to cater a green wedding or event: 

• Select locally grown produce to reduce your ‘food miles’.
• Use fresh, minimally processed and minimally packaged foods.
• Consider using sustainable protein sources such as beans, lentils, chickpeas and chicken in your menu.
• Locally sourced eggs, chicken and pork are more sustainable animal protein sources, select them over beef and lamb.
• Choose sustainable seafood. You can find a helpful guide at
• use organic food and drinks where possible.
• use reusable, compostable or recyclable tableware.

Step 1. Planning the menu 

When organising your green wedding or event, it is important to consider what foods will be served and how they will be presented.

• Plan your menu around foods that you know are produced in the local area and are in season. Seasonal food guides are available locally from some fruit markets and online at
• Be sure to include some vegetarian options as meat production is a significant contributor to global warming.
• If you do plan on serving red meat, reduce the portion sizes. You can substitute red kidney beans or lentils for red meat, and chickpeas for white meat.
• Buy only what you need for the event – It's best to let your caterer know exactly how many people you are expecting before the food is ordered to avoid excess waste.

You can find some great sustainable recipes here:

Step 2. Purchasing the food

Organic food and drinks have a lower ecological impact per kilogram compared with conventionally grown produce because less energy-intensive methods are used in their production.

• To reduce food miles:
– Shop for local foods and buy produce that's in season.
– Purchase bread from the local bakery.
– Try to select Australian-made products.
• Look for certified organic foods as much as possible.
• When Australian-made product is not available, purchase fair trade items, e.g. coffee, tea and chocolate.
• Buy products with minimal packaging, or packaging that can be recycled or reused.
• Buy one large container instead of many individually portioned ones.
• Use reusable shopping bags to reduce the number of plastic bags ending up in landfill.

Step 3. Preparing the food

• Conserve water by turning off taps when not in use.
• Wash fruits and vegetables in a partially filled sink rather than under running water.
• Switch off any cooking equipment that isn't being used.
• Ensure that equipment is in good working order and that any new equipment purchased is energy efficient.

Step 4. Presenting the food

• Use jugs for drinks rather than single-serve bottles.
• Serve foods on reusable platters and plates.
• Avoid using disposable cutlery and tableware. If you need to, use products that can be recycled or are biodegradable like palm leaf plates or Green Bean eco-tableware.

Step 5. reduce, reuse, and recycle - some practical tips to managing your waste

Waste management is one of the key components of a Green Event. One of the major threats to the environment is the amount of waste produced. Australia is the second highest producer of waste per capita after the United States, sending 18 million tonnes to landfill per annum. When food is wasted, the energy and water used in producing the food is also wasted.

• Avoid over catering by confirming the number of event attendees and communicating this number to your caterer at least two weeks before the event.
• Plan to serve filtered or unfiltered tap water instead of purchasing bottled water.
• Donate food waste to compost, chicken feed or a worm farm, rather than landfill.
• Reduce packaging and try to use what has been or can be recycled.
• Reuse plastic or glass containers where possible.
• Print menus on 100% post consumer recycled paper or use a blackboard.

Step 6. Increase awareness by informing your guests that you are planning a green event

• Invite your guests in an environmentally friendly way and mention that you are planning a green event and what it means to you.
• Provide the MC with a script to explain to guests that the food choices being provided are sustainable and why you are passionate about helping to preserve the environment.

When you are interviewing caterers and or venue locations make sure they are aware of your expectations and ask if they are willing to follow the guidelines presented below to ensure your event is as friendly to the environment as possible.

Going green event checklist to go over with your caterer ✓

  • Ensure you go over this catering guide with your caterer and venue coordinator.
  • Send your invitations electronically or on recycled paper.
  • Increase awareness by telling the guests that they are attending a green event.
  • Ask the venue:
    •  if  food waste and recycling bins will be provided
    • to serve food on reusable platters and plates
    • can they conserve water in the food preparation
    • to provide separate recycling and food waste bins.
    • is it possible for the food waste be donated to compost, chicken feed or a worm farm?
    • to switch off unnecessary lights and power sources


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