Sustainable catering – things you should bare in mind

As we become more aware of the impact that our actions have on the environment, it’s essential to incorporate sustainable practices into all areas of our lives, including the catering options we choose for our up and coming events.

Sustainable catering is a practice that focuses on using eco-friendly and socially responsible practices when preparing and serving food. Whether it’s for a corporate event, wedding reception, or social gathering, sustainable catering can make a big impact on the environment while also reducing costs and increasing social awareness.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the key things you should keep in mind when planning sustainable catering. We’ll discuss how to reduce food waste and packaging, how to source local and seasonal ingredients, how to use energy-efficient equipment, and more:

catering cheeses and grapes

Choose locally-grown, seasonal produce

When planning a sustainable catering menu, one effective way to reduce your environmental impact is by selecting locally sourced, seasonal produce. Choosing local and seasonal ingredients not only supports your local community and reduces transportation emissions but it also provides fresher produce with improved taste and nutritional value, which can make all the difference in the final dish.

Food that doesn’t have to travel such a long way to reach your table is less likely to be damaged and this means that less food waste is produced. You can collaborate with your local farmers’ markets or farms to ensure that you are using what is in season and incorporating a variety of fresh produce into your dishes.

This approach also allows for more unique and creative menu options since you will be working with what is available at the time. Going for local seasonal produce not only positively impacts the environment, but also supports local farmers and helps your community thrive.

local ingredients

Reduce the amount of food that is thrown away

One of the best ways to minimize food waste is to plan your menu carefully. Make sure to estimate the amount of food you need with a food waste calculator based on the number of guests and plan accordingly. Additionally, encourage your guests to take smaller portions by serving food on smaller plates and with smaller serving spoons.

Another excellent way to reduce food waste is by donating any leftover food to local food banks or charities. This not only benefits those in need but also reduces waste. Using compostable or reusable packaging materials instead of disposable options can also significantly reduce waste production.

Use eco-friendly tableware

When it comes to sustainable catering, one of the easiest ways to reduce your environmental impact is by using eco-friendly tableware. Traditional single-use tableware like plastic plates, cups, and utensils contribute to landfill build-up and can take years to decompose. Here are some eco-friendly alternatives that you can consider:

  • Biodegradable or compostable plates and utensils made from materials like bamboo or cornstarch.
  • Reusable dishes, silverware, and glasses that can be washed and reused for future events.
  • Glass or metal water bottles or pitchers instead of single-use plastic bottles.
wooden cutlery

Eat less meat

As we become more aware of the impact of our actions on the environment, another way to plan sustainable catering is by considering the meat menu. Meat, especially beef, is one of the most environmentally unfriendly aspects of the catering industry due to intensive farm practices. Therefore, it’s essential to reduce the consumption of meat and use vegetarian or plant-based alternatives whenever possible.

Encouraging less meat consumption not only benefits sustainable catering but is also a great green living tip that you can promote for daily life. It’s not necessary to cut meat completely out of your diet, but reducing meat intake from 110g to 55g a day can make a significant difference.

Reduce water waste

One of the best ways to save water is to plan and communicate your water needs ahead of time. This will help you identify your water needs before the event and avoid wastage. Using high-efficiency equipment like taps with aerators, dishwashers, and washing machines can also help you save water and energy.

Setting up water refill stations around the venue instead of disposable bottles is another great way to reduce water waste. Additionally, using wipeable table coverings like tablecloths instead of disposable tableware can eliminate the need for washing and drying, saving water.

reduce water waste

Exclusively use sustainable caterers

One of the most significant steps towards sustainable catering is partnering exclusively with environmentally conscious caterers. By choosing caterers who prioritize eco-friendly practices, you ensure that all aspects of the event promote sustainability. Consider the following factors when selecting a sustainable caterer:

  • Use of organic and locally sourced ingredients
  • Committed to reducing food and packaging waste
  • Eco-friendly tableware options
  • Socially responsible practices, such as supporting ethical farming practices.

Use energy-efficient equipment and supplies

Making use of natural light and ventilation is an effective way to reduce energy consumption. Catering spaces can maximize natural light, minimizing the need for artificial lighting and climate control. Additionally, turning off equipment when not in use can help conserve energy and reduce waste. Using LED and energy-efficient light bulbs instead of traditional ones also offers a significant reduction in energy consumption.

Incorporating energy-efficient equipment and supplies into catering practices not only promotes sustainability but also helps reduce operating costs. Making small but efficient changes can go a long way in promoting eco-friendly practices and creating a healthier planet.


Sustainable catering involves making conscious decisions to minimize waste, conserve water, and reduce our carbon footprint. Choosing locally-grown and seasonal produce, using eco-friendly tableware, and reducing meat consumption are great ways to begin a sustainable catering journey.

Additionally, partnering with sustainable caterers reduces the environmental impact we make on our planet whilst also promoting responsible practices within the catering industry for your event. Reducing the amount of food waste, conserving water, and using energy-efficient equipment and supplies also contribute to a more sustainable catering event. By incorporating eco-friendly practices, we can promote sustainability for future generations.

Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

I hope you enjoy reading some of the content and ideas from this site, I tend to share articles on a regular basis, so be rest assured… you won’t run out of things to read! Contributing author at Garden Tips 360!

Articles: 49