Keeping it Green: Tips to Reduce Food Waste (4/1/13)

I’m Chris Angelucci, and as Special Projects Coordinator for the Organizational Dynamics Masters Degree program at the University of Pennsylvania I plan and run upwards of fifty events, large and small, each year.

I’m always very conscious of the environmental impact of our events, and I’ve developed a few tips to reduce waste.

  1. Order Buffet-Style – This eliminates the waste not only of the individual packaging in boxed meals, but also allows people to take only what they want. How many times have you seen a trash can after a meeting filled with uneaten apples or unopened plastic containers of side-salads?  As an added bonus, buffet-style is more visually attractive.
  2. Order Bulk Beverages – I always order bulk water, presented in a large glass cistern filled with sliced lemons. It looks great, and completely eliminates the plastic bottles. If possible, use this for all your beverages.
  3. Have To-Go Containers Available – I make sure there are plenty of recycled (and compostable) containers ready for attendees to take home leftovers, and then I encourage them to do so. If anything remains after that, I have an easy way to get it back to the office.
  4. Recycling – If there are recycling bins available at the venue, strongly encourage the attendees to recycle their tableware, cups and plates. Plastics recycling isn’t perfect, but it’s better than sending the stuff to the landfill.

These are all things you can do for little or no expense. If you have a bit extra in your budget, many caterers now have even more “green options” like biodegradable tableware, or, better yet, real china plates and metal utensils.

Thanks to the DYNM 615 Pennovation class for asking me to contribute.

(Chris Angelucci; cba@sas.upenn.edu)

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