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Planning Sustainable Events

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Planning your events with sustainability in mind not only helps to reduce the impact of your events, but it also saves resources, time, and money. There are many resources to help you learn how to plan a sustainable event at Stanford. It is easy to do and rewarding in so many ways.  The efforts of everyone at Stanford – students, faculty and staff – are crucial to creating a more sustainable campus - reaching Stanford's goal of "Zero Waste by 2030" - and ensuring that our community members exist as sustainable citizens in the world at large. 

Sustainable Stanford

Cardinal Green Events

The Office of Sustainability invites all event planners to participate in the campus’ green events program. Online resources and staff support offer information and recommendations on everything from food choices and catering to zero waste strategies, communication, transportation, and post-event considerations at Stanford. Whether you're hosting a 10-person lunch or a 1,000-person conference, there are opportunities to choose sustainable options and practices.

Learn more about what you can do to help reduce waste, conserve resources, and make your event Cardinal Green.

The Office of Sustainability's Cardinal Green Event Guidelines document is an easy to follow guide for best practices, tips and tricks that will help you make all of the events you plan sustainable. There are a few key areas to focus on:


Reducing the amount of food you order, being selective about the types of food you order and how it is served can make a big difference for the sustainability of your event, as well as your event costs. Many of the catering options on campus offer seasonal, organic and locally sourced dishes, vegan and vegetarian options, and use sustainable service methods like buffets and compostable serving ware. You can also work with local organizations to donate any leftover food that you might have (hint - students LOVE free food).

Cardinal Green Event Catering Guidelines

Marketing and Promotion

An easy way to reduce your event impact is to use sustainable methods for marketing and promoting your event, as well as for your event materials, swag and decorations. Using digital communications and advertising methods like the Stanford Events Calendar, email and social media and websites is a great way to save money and resources. If you do need to print materials, focus on making them reusable (this saves money for future events as well) or ensuring they are sourced from vendors that focus on providing materials that are eco-friendly

Sustainable SWAG Guidelines 

Waste management

After you have focused on reducing waste in the areas above, make sure you have proper waste management in line for your event and ensure attendees understand what items go in which bins. Order enough recycling and compost bins when you place your PSSI work order. You can also share waste reduction, recycling, and composting guidelines with your attendees.

How to order bins for special events


There are a few things you can do as an event planner to help reduce impact from transportation. Things like scheduling your event to avoid peak traffic hours, and sharing information with your attendees for alternative transportation options like shuttles and public transit by train or bus, can all make a difference.

Event resources from Stanford Transportation

Virtual/Hybrid Events

Consider hosting a virtual or hybrid event instead. This would not only save resources and be more sustainable, it could allow you to reach audiences that you might otherwise not. Many attendees are now familiar with virtual and hybrid events and new technology options make it easier than ever to engage participants in meaningful ways. There are a lot of resources available to support virtual and hybrid events at Stanford.

Tips and guides for virtual and hybrid event planning

Helpful Resources

The Office of Sustainability has created a wonderful resource library with links, detailed guides, and lots of helpful information about planning sustainable events. 

Cardinal Green Event Resource Library

Campus Sustainability Reports and Program Guides