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How to Create:

Sustainable Meetings & Events

At Harvard, our goal is to cultivate a culture of health and sustainability in how we plan campus meetings and events, providing opportunities for staff, students, faculty, and visitors to eat well, stay active, and reduce waste while advancing the University’s sustainability goals. By implementing best sustainability practices into everyday meetings and events, we take an important step to support the inclusive wellbeing of our community and others globally, both now and in the future. 

Sustainable Meeting and Event Guide:

In the full Sustainable Meeting and Event Guide, which was developed by a team of students and staff from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Office for Sustainability, you will find resources such as:

To supplement the Meeting and Event Guide, the Harvard Office for Sustainability has assemebled a Showcase of Ideas and Options for Sustainable and Healthful Catering at Harvard. Though not an exhaustive list, this guide is intended to inspire and educate Harvard catering purchasers and event organizers to select sustainable meal options.

Highlights from the Sustainable Meeting & Event Guide:

Photo of a variety of plant-based foods.
  1. Showcase plant-based proteins (like beans, lentils, or tofu) paired with vibrant flavors, ideally as the default main dish.
  2. Offer drinks without single-serve packaging, such as fruit-infused pitchers of tap or filtered water
  3. Ask caterers to label common allergens, such as nuts, dairy, sesame, and shellfish.
  4. Serve whole grains instead of refined grains (for example, brown rice instead of white rice), and ask caterers to cook with healthful oils like canola or extra virgin olive oil.
  5. When offering snacks, feature nutritious plant-based items like fresh fruit, hummus with crisp vegetables, and nuts.
  6. Coffee and tea (with plant-based milk as an option) after a meal can leave guests satisfied. For a special treat, consider dark chocolate-covered fruit or bite-sized vegan baked goods.
  7. Whenever possible, choose reusable items. When single-use items are necessary, ask your caterer to use clearly-marked compostable or recyclable serving items.
  8. Make sure your meeting room has a “waste station” with identifiable compost, recycling, and trash bins.
  9. Periodically break up sitting time with standing, walking, or light stretching. Ensure there are options for all abilities.
  10. When appropriate, collect RSVPs to help determine how much food to order. For very large events, pre-arrange food donations with your caterer.

Why Make Meals Greener By Default?

Animal products, especially red meat and dairy, generally have higher environmental impacts compared to plant-based foods.

The mission of the “Greener by Default” is simple: Offer plant-based food as the main meal, but let attendees optionally add animal products when they RSVP. For buffet events, serve at least twice as many delicious plant-based dishes compared to meat dishes.

Institutions that have adopted Greener By Default as a formal food policy report significant overall reductions in their consumption of animal products, without restricting diners’ options.

Sustainable Meetings & Events

By following the tips in this guide, you can create more sustainable meetings, conferences, and events that prioritize the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Download Harvard’s Sustainable Meeting & Event GuideOpens new window

Cover page of Harvard's Sustainable Meeting and Event Guide. Photo shows students getting food at a buffet.

Showcase of Ideas & Options for:

Sustainable & Healthful Catering at Harvard

This guide highlights some creative and delicious offerings from on-campus vendors that align with Harvard’s Sustainable Meeting & Event Guide.


This showcase is intended to inspire and educate Harvard catering purchasers and event organizers, but it is not an exhaustive list. We encourage you to peruse our vendors’ menus for their full offerings.

Download the 2023 Sustainable & Healthful Catering Showcase

Cover page of Harvard's Showcase of Sustainable and Healthful Catering Menu.

Healthful and Sustainable Food

Harvard pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food by 25% by 2030 as part of Coolfood Pledge.

Learn More


Sustainability Resources

Explore sustainability resources at Harvard.

Learn More
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Upcoming Events



12:00 pm-1:45 pm GMT+0000

Open to the Public

See-food @ Harvard Earth Day Event

Earth Day

Join us on Thu Apr 18 2024 at 12:00 PM at the Harvard Science Center Plaza for a fun-filled seafood event celebrating Earth Day. Take bites of delicious seafood samples prepared by Harvard chefs while learning how to be climate-adaptive sea-foodies, guided by New England’s leading seafood sustainability organizations. Experience the fun of blind-tasting games and win surprise prizes! This event is open to everyone, and we encourage you to stay through the whole event. However, tasting samples are limited, so be sure to reserve your spot now!



9:45 am-12:00 pm GMT+0000

Open to the Public

Charles River Clean-Up

Charles River
Earth Day


12:00 pm-2:00 pm GMT+0000

Open to Harvard Community

Earth Day Festival at HU Longwood

Earth Day

Harvard community members are invited to stop by the Countway Community Garden at Longwood on Monday, April 22, from noon to 2 pm for information on sustainability, garden activities, snacks, and giveaways! Meet with Harvard Recycling, C-CHANGE, Restaurant Associates, Harvard University Dining Services, Longwood Consortium, and the event sponsors Countway Library, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Dental Medicine.



Multi-day Event

Celebrating Birds: A Papier Mâché Workshop

In this workshop, you will use museum specimens to inspire your own avian creation. Over five half days, artist Gail Boyajian will guide you from start to finish as you build and paint a papier mâché bird from scratch, using everyday materials.

We will complement the art-making process with visits to the museum galleries as well as the ornithology research collections.