Producing a Sustainable Event: Governor’s Awards Ceremony

The 2015 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards Ceremony is ISTC’s premiere event, highlighting public and private entities who have gone above and beyond the standard method of business and incorporated sustainability throughout their organization. We strive to create a zero-waste, low impact Ceremony to celebrate these Award winners each year.

There are many things to consider when organizing a sustainable event. These include waste reduction, energy use, and use of local foods. During the event planning process, think about things you need, such as food and refreshments, transportation, plating, speaker sessions, and guest stays. Then, either use an existing green event checklist or create your own to integrate sustainability in as many steps as possible. Collect information on the venue’s sustainable practices as well. Here are a few suggestions.

Food and Plating

  • Use local, seasonal, and organic produce for meal preparation. Ask your caterer or venue what portions or ingredients of each meal qualify under these categories.
  • Sustainable seafood and meat sourced for meals
  • Choose meatless meal options for guests – vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free
    • Due to the high impacts of the meat industry on our environment, choose to not serve red meat as a meal option.
  • Serve all condiments, water, tea, coffee in bulk
  • Use reusable utensils, plates, glasses and mugs – no disposables!

Waste Reduction

  • Recycling services in place – paper, cardboard, beverage containers, plastic, steel, and plastic film in the back of the house and front of house
    • Advertise this to your guests so that they are aware of these efforts.
    • Make signage clear and readily visible so that guests know that they have the opportunity to sort their waste appropriately.
  • Collect food scraps and organics from kitchen and meal preparation
  • Ask your venue or caterer to use only reusable linens and napkins
  • Line booths with reusable linens
  • Do not provide individual garbage cans exhibitors
  • Purchase reusable, bio-based name tags – collect them at the end of the event for future use.

Guest Rooms

  • Provide in-room recycling bins for all guests associated with the event
  • Provide the ability for guests to reuse towels, bedding and toiletries

Keep track of what your venue or caterer can accommodate so that you are clear when you communicate the sustainability of your event. You want to keep your credibility, so it’s important make sure that your actions match your words.

Here are some other great resources that can help you plan your next sustainable event:

Come see how we’ve made the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards a green event. The symposium and ceremony will be held October 27th at the Sheraton Hotel Chicago. More event information can be found here: