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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


Upcoming Events



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Landscape Sketching

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9:30 am-11:30 pm GMT+0000

Open to the Public

Drawing Plants and Flowers in Colored Pencil

Explore the beauty and variety of plants using colored pencils. This course will focus on a diverse range of techniques for using colored pencils to capture flowers, leaves, fruits, and vegetables, from quick monochrome sketching to richly layered, full-color images.



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

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Rising Tides: Integrating Situated Visualization, Augmented Reality, and Public-Participation Technology to Create an Accessible Platform for Localized Climate Change Visualization and Discourse

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Narges Mahyar is an assistant professor at the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, whose research is situated at the intersection of human-computer interaction, information visualization, social computing, applied machine learning, human-centered artificial intelligence, and design. She applies a community-centered design approach to build novel social computing and visualization tools to empower the general public to engage in real-world sociotechnical issues, such as urban planning and climate change, by enabling them to share their ideas and comments for shaping future policies.

In this lecture, Mahyar will speak about her project to discover innovative techniques to integrate situated visualization, augmented reality, and civic technology to design and build a mobile platform that simulates the localized impact of climate change, thereby providing Boston residents with an immersive experience of climate change visualizations and empowering them to contribute comments and ideas on climate change issues. The platform will benefit the movement towards more equitable resilience by creating new opportunities for the public, especially the underserved communities, to raise their voices and join the discourse.

Her recognition in the field has been repeatedly confirmed through many accolades for her research, including seven best or honorable mention paper awards from top conferences in her field. She holds a PhD in computer science from the University of Victoria. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Computer Science department at the University of British Columbia from 2014 to 2016 and in the Design Lab at the UC San Diego from 2016 to 2018.



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Open to the Public

Inspired by Nature: Drawing from Your Imagination

Looking closely at nature can inspire a broad range of imaginative artwork, from abstraction and decorative work to illustration and cartooning. In this workshop, we will use a variety of examples from nature as inspiration, and then explore techniques for unleashing our creativity through the drawing process.

Class size will be limited to twelve, allowing ample time for individual feedback. All skill levels are welcome.

Taught by artist and illustrator, Erica Beade.