We at Serious Eats attend many food events and let's face it, garbage piles up at these things. Every time we go to one and see the overflowing trash bins, we're left wondering, how can an event be more green? Or, how can we save all the paper wasted on press releases? We chatted with New York City-based restaurant publicist Chandni Patel, who organizes many events for her clients. Here are five things she told us to consider when hosting an event:
1. Media kits on memory sticks
Instead of wasting paper printing out all your press information, put it on a memory stick. You can brand the stick with your logo or restaurant name, plus it makes things much easier for the person receiving the information. While the paper sheets are great at the moment you hand it to them, they eventually need it on the computer. Ta da! That little stick will save them time typing, plus they’ll reuse the memory stick in the future—and see your name every time they do.
2. Beer on tap instead of bottles
Instead of opening, then trashing all those bottles, see if you can order your beer (or even wine potentially) on tap. It’s often more economical to buy it in larger quantities, not to mention all the packaging you save.
3. Finger foods are delicious (and green!)
We don’t mean serve greener appetizers, as in more lettuce cups or basil garnishes—we mean serve more finger food in general. The nibbles are fun, tasty crowdpleasers that are here to stay, plus they cut back on waste. Think of all the plates, forks, knives, and spoons you’re saving while eating them too. That little twig of a toothpick will do the job just fine.
4. Donate extra food to food banks
Nobody likes wasting food. And after an event, you have many options for food banks and shelters that will gladly take your unopened food. Of course make sure your guests have enough to eat, but in case there are leftovers—maybe the weather is crummy, or for whatever reason not as many eaters showed up—then pack it all up and drop it off. You can always find a home for that extra food. Same applies to flowers. Those beautiful bouquets sitting on tables—they’ll last at least a week, so before chucking them after an event, try finding a nearby hospital where you can drop them off.
5. Water bottles instead of gift bags
These days just about everyone is clutching their aluminum, reusable water bottle. It’s one of the more useful gifts to give away, and doubles as a walking billboard. Instead of wasting paper on gift bags filled with knicknacky whozits and whatzits galore that, let’s be honest, they won’t use, give away branded water bottles. Every time they glug from it they’ll see your name or logo, as will anyone near by. And if they are healthy individuals who drink plenty of water, this will occur often. “My sister was out in California and saw someone holding a water bottle of one of my clients!” said Chandni.