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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Click here to return to the Sustainable Event Greening Guide.


Do as much as possible to reduce waste before the event even starts. Here are some suggestions:

  • Publicize your event mainly via email and the internet.
    • If you do use printed publicity materials, print quarter or half-sheets or postcards directing participants to the event website to get full details.
    • VU Printing Services offers green printing alternatives, such as vegetable-based inks, paper that is Forest Stewardship Council-certified (FSC), tree-free paper, and paper containing at least 30% post-consumer waste content. Visit the SustainVU Green Printing page for additional information.
  • Use online registration and electronic payment with email confirmation, such as Eventbrite or ConstantContact.
  • Encourage speakers to use PowerPoint presentations instead of handouts, and Dry Erase Boards instead of flip chart paper. Upload materials to a website for access by participants.
  • Purchase sustainable event materials and gifts for presenters and participants that are recyclable; made of recycled materials; made with organic and/or unbleached fibers; or purchase materials/gifts that save energy or water or reduce waste. Specific items often available in environmentally-friendlier versions are badge holders, folders, pens, reusable water bottles and coffee mugs, conference bags, t-shirts, pullovers, or LED handcranked cell phone chargers and flashlights. There are many options available; simply request these characteristics from your supplier or vendor.
  • Designate a green sweeper to collect recyclables, power-down lights and equipment, adjust thermostats, take note of items that can be re-used, adjust blinds and curtains, etc. at the end of your event.


Think of creative ways to reuse materials from the event, particularly conferences that occur annually. A few options would be:

  • Reuse location and room signs for several events.
  • Provide reusable nametag holders and lanyards and collect them at the end of the event for use again the next year.
  • Decorate with natural and reusable items, such as whole fruit, flowers, and herbs/plants that can be replanted for others to enjoy after the event.
  • Donate excess food to food banks, if possible:


  • Request recycling bins for your next event:
    • For events held on Vanderbilt’s campus, include a request for recycling on your work order to Plant Operations. Or you can contact Vanderbilt’s Campus Recycling Coordinator at 615.343.2784 or
    • If you are not serviced by Plant Operations, you could specify within your catering contract that the caterer provide recycling containers and remove the recycling to its proper location when they leave.
    • For events held off of Vanderbilt’s campus in the Nashville community visit Nashville’s recycling page.
  • Place recycling containers next to trash bins for easy access, and announce to participants throughout the event what and where to recycle.
  • Make sure that your containers are well labeled, and if possible have restrictive lids (lids cut to the shape of the object being recycled). This helps to cut down trash winding up in the recycling.


Click here to return to the Sustainable Event Greening Guide.