Looking to make your event sustainable and waste-free?

If so, this page is for you!

McMaster has many services already in place to facilitate the planning and hosting of sustainable and waste-free events. Please see the useful tips below to learn more about how you can make your event as sustainable and waste-free as possible.

The guide revolves around three of McMaster’s Areas of Focus for Sustainability; under each heading one can find tips pertaining to health & wellbeing, transportation and waste. As education is a key component to hosting sustainable and waste-free events, you will also find tips on how to use pre-event communication to further promote your sustainability goals.

Health & Wellbeing

  • Consider the individual needs of the participants
    • If the event is catered; make sure to take into account any dietary restrictions.
    • Make sure that the food served includes a healthy option and is produced sustainably (e.g. serving fair-trade coffee).
    • Provide sufficient breaks throughout your event for guests to refill their water bottles, get a snack or use the facilities.


  • Consider how participants will be coming to the event
    • Provide bike/walk routes and communicate various options for bicycle parking.
    • Ensure participants are aware of transit service to and from the event.
    • If many participants are commuting from the same place, propose carpooling options.


  • Minimizing waste is key to hosting a waste-free event
    • Ensure there are recycling, composting and waste bins throughout the location where the event will be held and that they are well labeled, with indications on what goes where.
    • Encourage participants to bring along their own re-usable mugs and water bottles.
    • Advise event attendees that McMaster has over 60 water refill stations for refilling bottles throughout the day.
    • If the event is catered, consider using china instead of paper service. If paper service is needed, make sure the material is compostable.
    • Plan and anticipate how much food you will need in order to minimize waste at the end of the event.
    • Consider bringing reusable containers to take away any leftover food.
    • Instead of individual creamers, plastic stir sticks, sugar packets, water bottles and juice boxes consider cream and milk cartons, wooden stir sticks, sugar bowls, a cambro of water and juice cans.
    • Consider alternatives to paper advertising: e-mailing participants and creating a website or a page on a social media site can greatly diminish the need of posters, hard-copy invitations and brochures. If your event will be held continuously, consider omitting dates on your promotional items. That way they can be reused multiple times and changed accordingly.
    • Consider minimizing hand-outs during the event, if necessary ensure those left behind can be reused, i.e. there are no dates on them (if possible), they are plastified or made from a sturdy material and they are double sided.
July 4, 2012