Plan an Event

This guide provides simple advice for planning a green or sustainable event. If you want your large (or whatever size) event to leave a small footprint, follow these recommendations. Download our Green Event Checklist for more help planning your event.

  • Pre-Event

    Brain Icon.

    Designate a Green Planner

    You don't need to be a green expert to plan a sustainable event. A point person can be designated to make sure you stick to the green event guidelines.

    Paper Airplane Icon.

    Promote Sans Paper

    • Promote digitally or face to face. Avoid using flyers – they contribute to paper waste.
    • Work with your department's communications specialist to share event information with your audience.
    • If paper is a must, select only the highest visibility locations for your flyers.
    • Email any presentation, agenda, or handouts beforehand to avoid paper waste.

    Stay Away from Plastic and Styrofoam

    • Bottled water is convenient, but represents a serious environmental impact. It's best to use a beverage dispenser and ask attendees to bring their own reusable water bottles.
    • If you have a lot of small events, consider investing in reusable plates, cups, and utensils – hire interns to wash them. If you have to use disposable items, buy #1 plastic bottles or paper products.

    Know Who's Coming

    RSVP Icon.
    • How many people do you have to feed? Have an RSVP system like Facebook events, Eventbrite, or similar service in place so you can prevent food waste and unnecessary cost.
    • Name tags are great – their waste isn’t.  Ask people to bring their UAB ID or to bring their own from work, or use reusable name tags and collect them after the event.
    • Do they have to commute to the event? Offer a telecommute option like Google + Hangouts or Adobe Connect.
    • Suggest multi-modal transportation options such as biking, public transportation, and carpooling. These options are good for your attendees’ health, their wallets, and the environment.

    Keep It Local

    Part of UAB’s mission is to encourage economic growth by investing in our local business community. UAB event planners are encouraged to use local, small, and diverse businesses whenever possible.

    Recycle Symbol.

    Think About Event Waste

    • Don't let it go to waste. Encourage participants to bring their own reusable water bottles, travel coffee mugs, and Tupperware containers for leftover food.
    • Scope the event space to be sure there are recycling bins. If not, call UAB dispatchers at 934-WORK to request them.
    • Prioritize buffet-style food and request bulk containers for beverages (like water coolers), salad dressings, and condiments, as this significantly reduces waste. Opt for finger food or hors d’oeuvres that are not individually wrapped.

    Eco-Friendly Merchandise

    • If you are going to be giving away merchandise consider: Will people use this or will it end up in the trash soon after the event? Is it made from recyclable or recycled materials? If the answer is “No” to both questions, you need another item.
    • Choose practical items that convey your program’s message and also offer long- term practical uses.
    • Check UAB’s approved vendor list for their green products options.
  • During Event

    Lightbulb Icon.
    • Announce waste disposal procedures to the attendees at the start of the meeting, noting what can and can’t be recycled. Point out the recycling and trash bins.
    • Turn off the lights! Use any natural light that your event space might have.
    • Brag on yourself: let your guests know that they are participating in a “green” event, and even point out the “green” features! This will encourage them to host a green event and be aware of ways to reduce their impact in everyday life.
  • Post Event

    Can Icon.
    • Sharing is Caring: If there’s leftover food, offer to let people take it home. Ask the caterer to provide recyclable to-go containers and encourage people to use their own containers.
    • Leftovers? If you have enough events with food and often produce leftovers, consider establishing a relationship with a receiving organization like Magic City Harvest or JLB Second Servings so you’re ready to donate at the right time.
    • Recycle! If there is an opportunity to recycle, take it. UAB recycles clean paper/cardboard, clean aluminum cans, and clean #1 plastic bottles. Please recycle best you can, and put other waste in the trash.


UAB Sustainability

616 9th St. S.
Birmingham, AL 35294

UAB Recycling Dropoff Center

620 11th St. S.
Birmingham, AL 35205

Let UAB Sustainability know you hosted a successful green event!