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For sustainable food practices, consider the food itself, the transportation of the food, and the waste produced by food packaging. Sustainable food practices include:

  • Hiring caterers who commit to using locally grown and organic food as much as possible. This greatly reduces the distance the food had to travel to your event, making it fresher, and reducing the environmental impact of that transportation process.
  • Serving sustainable coffee, such as shade-grown, fair-trade, organic, bird-certified, etc., available from most coffee wholesalers.
    • Buy coffee from local brewers to reduce transportation related carbon emissions. Look into coffee from Bongo Java.

Did you know? Coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the world! Your choice in coffee really does make a difference!

  • Using reusable china plates and utensils whenever possible to reduce the waste of disposables. Several local companies who offer these products for rental include:
  • If disposables must be used, here are some choices, recommended in order of least environmental impact: 1) paper products with a high recycled content (i.e. paper cups or napkins made with recycled paper), 2) bioware that is made of corn, potatoes, etc. that is biodegradable or compostable, or 3) recyclable plastic ware. Earth-friendlier cups are available from American Paper and Twine (APT) through E-Procurement.
    • Dixie’s Insulair Hot/Cold Cups are made of 25% post-consumer recycled paper material with a 100% post-consumer recycled built-in sleeve.
    • Solo’s “Bare” Hot/Cold Cups are made of at least 10% post-consumer recycled paper material and comes in sizes 4 to 20 ounces.
    • Solo’s “Bare” Plastic cup is made of 20% recycled PET.

For more options on earth friendlier product choices, please contact Jenny Kirby at American Paper and Twine at 615.350.9050 ext. 2250, or at

  • If your event is offering soft drinks and/or plastic water bottles, it is a good choice to use the 12 ounce size over the standard 16 ounce. Often, people don’t drink the entire 16 ounces of water, leaving liquid in the bottle that needs to be emptied before being properly recycled. This will cut down on waste as well as cut costs, reducing overall material and labor costs.
  • Eliminate excess packaging by serving food in large containers instead of single-servings. Provide bulk water, coffee and drink dispensers instead of individually packaged products. Consider using water coolers instead of water bottles and providing food in lunch bags with recycled content instead of lunch boxes. Environmentally friendly lunch bags can be purchased at many locations. One local option is Nashville Wraps.
  • Serve bite-sized or finger foods to minimize plate and utensil use.
  • Get an accurate count of attendance and special dietary requests (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.) before the event to eliminate excess food waste.
  • Buy napkins that have post consumer paper content in them. Whole Foods carries napkins in bulk sizes that have between 80% – 100% post consumer recycled material. This is a good example of how a small change can make a big difference.

Click here to return to the Sustainable Event Greening Guide.