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Guide to Sustainable Event Management at WHOI

Feeding People, not the Oceans and Landfills with Plastic

Offering food/snacks, drinks/coffee at WHOI can add a nice personal touch to your event. However, plates, utensils & cups can constitute a significant source of waste and environmental impact. For this reason, it is important that we take some simple steps to make food service more sustainable.

Students and Techs promote Alternatives to Plastics Showcase at WHOI


WHOI promotes the following general guidelines:

Reusable, Compostable or Recyclable dinnerware


(see list of caterers fulfilling all or many of the guidelines - appendix 1)

The list of caterers will change as we receive your feedback regarding additions or deletions, and as more ‘conventional’ caterers begin to offer options that meet these principles.

When contacting a caterer or planning your own event, please ask/consider the following questions:

  1.        Are you able to serve on chinet and offer reusable silverware?
  2.        Can you offer reusable cloth napkins & linens?
  3.        If you are not able to offer reusable products are you able to offer recyclable/compostable dinnerware?
  4.        Can you offer pitchers of water or beverage dispenser vs. plastic bottles?
  5.        If ordering box-lunches, can you use a recyclable/compostable box?
  6.        Will you work with a Composting Vendor to handle composting the event?

Composting Support

Black Earth Compost will collect compostable materials. WHOI does have collection bins that you may be able to use for your event, depending on volume and timing. Please contact the vendor and WHOI Meeting services in advance of the event to arrange.

Experience has taught that composting is most successful when the system is clearly announced to guests at the beginning of the first meal, and all bins are well labeled.

Water Bottle Filling Stations

WHOI has set up various water bottle filling stations throughout the campuses. For an event, encourage attendees to bring their own water bottle. If you need beverage dispensers at your event, and the caterer doesn’t provide them, please contact WHOI’s Meeting Services at 

Name Tags

There are ways to ensure that your participants’ name tags don’t add to the waste stream.  Consider collecting and reusing lanyards and plastic sleeves at the end of the conference, thus only needing to recycle the paper name insert. Or for smaller events you could hand out and collect fully reusable nametags (little whiteboard or blackboard plates with magnetic attachments). Both Amazon and WB Mason have a wide array of options if you search for “reusable nametags”.


Single Stream recycling receptacles are available throughout our campuses.  If additional recycling containers are needed for your event, please contact WHOI’s Meeting Services at

Creating a sustainable WHOI is our goal and your support is paramount to the success of the program. Resources are available to ease the transition, so please reach out if you have questions.

Instead of...

Try a more sustainable choice…

  • Individual water bottles  →  use a refillable pitcher
  • Boxed lunches →  serve veggies and cold-cut platters
  • Serving meals on disposable plates and cutlery  →  plan menus with finger foods that require less waste
  • Kcups  →  use pods: Bunn Coffee Pod info and
  • Single-use plastic or paper cups  →  bring your own water bottle or mug.