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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



11:30 am-1:00 pm GMT+0000

Open to Harvard Community

Help Reduce Waste at Harvard!

Harvard Waste and Recycling

Harvard’s Waste Stewardship Committee is developing a university-wide Zero Waste plan and needs YOUR input! How can we better support recycling, composting, and reuse on campus? How can we buy less and buy smarter? We want to hear your ideas, priorities, and struggles! Explore our tabling dates and other ways to get involved.



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

Open to Harvard Community

HRE Compost Lunch ‘n’ Learn

Harvard Real Estate

Join us for a fun and informative session on composting at 8 Story Street! Starting this summer, our composting at 8 Story Street will be managed by Harvard Recycling. This event in Conference Room 175 at 8 Story Street will teach you all about how we spare the food scraps from the landfill and capture all that embodied energy. Come hungry and leave with a belly full of plant-based foods and a head full of Harvard composting knowledge. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to gather together and make a positive impact on the environment! This event is hosted by Harvard Real Estate and open to Harvard staff members who work at 8 Story Street. Please register in advance at by Friday, July 26th. Registration is limited to the first 30 attendees. Thanks!



Multi-day Event

Open to the Public

International Workshop on Climate-Resilient Development in Southeast Asia

climate resilience

Register by Wednesday, July 3 deadline! Through a series of talks and poster presentations, the workshop aims to promote research exchange of scholars from multiple disciplines and of diverse regional expertise on the status and dynamics of climate resilience studies, as well as to generate policy-relevant knowledge regarding climate resilient development pathways in Southeast Asian countries.