Emory Sustainable Events Checklist

Emory's Sustainable Events Checklist and Certification is a way to encourage and empower event planners inside the Emory community to embrace sustainability principles when organizing their events. Events can range from small, such as a department lunch, to large, such as graduation of 4,400 students plus their family! Emory's Office of Sustainability Initiatives encourages all event planners to pursue as many items from our checklist as possible. After completing the checklist, you will be contacted by the Office of Sustainability to confirm your certification level and receive information on how to market your commitment to sustainability at the event. If given permission, your event will be featured on the Office of Sustainability Initiatives website and social media.

There are two levels of certification an event may receive:

-Zero Landfill Waste: Your event will be rewarded the Zero Landfill Waste Certification if it eliminates all polystyrene (Styrofoam) from the waste stream, provides both recycling and composting bins throughout the event space, and no extra trash cans are ordered for the event. Any pre-existing trash cans are not available for use or are repurposed and clearly labeled as recycling or compost bins. Emory's goal is for all events to be certified Zero Landfill Waste by 2020.

-        -Gold Certification: 75% of all applicable  checklist items are achieved including all Zero Landfill Waste credits

In an annual raffle, each Gold certified event planner and department will be entered to win a $100 Emory Dining gift card to use for future events.

Questions about the Sustainable Event Checklist and Certification? Email emorysustainability@emory.edu.

Event Information
A red asterisk indicates that the question is required.

ZERO LANDFILL WASTE: For our event we agree to...
*All three of these actions are mandatory for your event to be considered for Sustainable Event certification

Polystyrene is not accepted in Emory’s recycling stream, meaning it ends up in landfills that negatively impact the property values and quality of life of local communities, and release greenhouse gases. Polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic, making it resource intensive and taking hundreds of years to biodegrade.

 Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. Keeping waste out of trashcans helps Emory get closer to its goal of reducing its landfill waste stream by 65%.

Through Emory's expanded recycling and composting capacity, the need for trashcans is virtually eliminated (except for Styrofoam). Studies have shown that in institutional settings, simply placing recycling bins in convenient locations greatly increases the amount recycled                     
WASTE MINIMIZATION: For our event, we agree to...

Bottled water production consumes 1,000 times more energy than tap water, and producing one liter of bottled water requires up to three liters of tap water. It is estimated that 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfills worldwide each year.

The average American office worker uses 500 disposable cups each year. Requesting guests to bring their own mugs/bottles can encourage sustainable behaviors beyond the event. Personal mugs can also be a fun way to start conversation among guests.

Having event staff trained in recycling and composting is a great way to lead by example by showing guests your commitment to sustainability and serving as a knowledge base for guests to learn about recycling and composting. 

In 2012, 7 million tons of plastic waste came from nondurable (one-time use) goods, including throwaway plates, containers, cups, and utensils. Student-run events are eligible to receive free compostable cutlery through Emory Dining. Email david.furhman@emory.edu to make this request. 

Minimizing give-away items avoids excess waste and reduces costs.

Producing one ton of paper requires 3 tons of wood and 19,000 gallons of water, and produces approximately 2,300 lbs. of solid waste and 5,700 lbs. of greenhouse gases. The EPA estimates that recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water.

Reusable name badges save on paper, ink, electricity, and delivery when compared to disposable ones. Protective sleeves also give them a longer lifetime.

Electronic flyers eliminate paper and plastic waste and can reach a greater audience. Laminated or plastic signs can be easily cleaned and reused. Laminate protects signs from handling, wear, and UV damage. 

100% post-consumer waste paper generates less solid waste and fewer emissions, and avoids using virgin wood. FSC-Certified products ensure water quality protection, prohibit old-growth forest harvesting and hazardous chemicals, and engage local communities. Tree-free paper is made from the residues of other products, such as sugar cane production, which would otherwise be burned or landfilled. 
LOCATION: For our event, we agree to...

Utilizing natural lighting increases energy efficiency and reduces climate impact, while also improving the indoor environment and sense of well-being of occupants.

A vampire load is the amount of energy an appliance uses while in "standby" mode or switched "off" while still plugged in, and can account for a large amount of a building's energy consumption.
FOOD/FLORAL/DECOR: For our event, we agree to...

 Sustainably grown food supports environmental health, worker welfare and wages, and farm viability, in addition to improved nutrition. Signs serve as visual cues to remind us to incorporate sustainable behaviors into our day-to-day lives.

 Rotting food in landfills is a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. U.S. landfills collect 36 million tons of food waste annually. Feed people, not landfills.

Fair trade certification improves incomes and working conditions of small farmers and gives these individuals the tools to improve their quality of life.

The current livestock production system accounts for 37% of methane and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions, two of the most potent greenhouse gases. Producing 1 kilogram of animal protein requires 100 times more water than producing 1 kilogram of grain protein. Currently, 50% of the world’s corn and 90% of the world’s soybeans are not consumed by humans directly, but are used for animal feed on factory farms.

Having an attendee headcount improves accuracy in food estimates, thus reducing potential waste.

Bulk dispensing containers can be refilled, thus reducing packaging waste. Individual condiment packets that are still full contaminate the recycling stream, therefore bulk options are best.

Reusable decorations extend the life of the resource inputs and can serve dual purposes. For example, beeswax candles or potted plants can liven up event tables and be used as give-away items.

The cut-flower industry grows many flowers in developing countries. Companies that don't have environmental/ethical certification may overexploit water and land resources and risk workers' health due to pesticide exposure and low wages.
TRAVEL: For our event, we agree to...

Alternative commute options contribute to reduced traffic congestion and emissions. Biking and walking improve personal health, and public transportation/carpooling can encourage community building and provide opportunities for social networking. Carpooling decongests roads, saves money, and can save time where there are HOV lanes.

Out-of-town guests and speakers use a lot of energy in transport- one roundtrip economy class flight from New York to Atlanta emits 0.24 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person, which is the approximate weight of the waste produced by one person in a year.

Accommodations that are close to campus cut down on transport time and encourage guests to engage in the community and learn more about the local area. 
EDUCATION: For our event, we agree to....

Announcing event features makes guests more observant of sustainable actions and behaviors, while explaining recycling and composting gives guests clarity and allows them to act efficiently both during the event and in the future.

Sharing experiences is critical for marketing new behaviors and purchases; online peer recommendations are a leading influence for 70% of consumer decisions, while 59% are from an online article.

Having educated station attendants shows your commitment to sustainability and provides guests with an understanding of recycling and composting that they can apply throughout campus in the future. If you need assistance training event volunteers, please email emorysustainability@emory.edu

Event planners often have the most innovative ideas about how to make events more sustainable. We want to hear about these and share them!
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