Tips on setting up a green event

You can use the following guidelines for your KNC event – or any event, for that matter!

  1. Reduce the Use: Recycle and repurpose items to minimize the waste generated by an event.
  2. Choose a Climate Neutral Setting: An outdoor event does not require energy to heat or cool the space.
  3. Consider locally made gifts & party favors:  Give handcrafted gifts like soaps, confections, or native seed.
  4. Cater Locally:  Choose a caterer that sources from local farmers and organic green farms. Ask if they will donate any leftover food to a local shelter or food bank.
  5. Donate leftover food:  Ask the caterer to donate extra food to a local shelter or food bank.
  6. Go Tree free with an electronic invite: Social media or email invitations save paper.

Contact the Events Manager at or call (269) 381-1574 ext. 37 to plan your special event at the Kalamazoo Nature Center!

Go Green

More tips on Greening your event:

Rent China & flatware
Rented dishes and flatware provide elegance and grace to an event and are generally easier for guests to use. There are multiple options in this area, with some being far more earth-friendly than others. Not surprisingly, the best route is reusable glass plates, utensils, and cups. Renting from a local source also minimizes the pollution associated with transport to and from your event. Rented china dishes and metal flatware are not only elegant, they are generally easier for guests to enjoy their meal with. A caterer will clear, rinse and restack your reusable, glass place settings for return to the rental company.

Purchase Compostable Items
Fully compostable items are cheaper than rented china and do not require staff time to rinse and sort. Compostable items can be disposed of into a compost bin along with food scraps. This allows for faster cleanup and reduced staffing needs. It is important, however, to source these items locally whenever possible and to maintain control of the associated waste streams. It is also critical to keep these items separated from anything that is recyclable or landfill-bound.Compostable items include plates, napkins, bowls, flatware, serving utensils, and drinkware. Shop online for compostable items.  Check out Michigan Green Safe and the WebstaurantStore for options.

How to set up a compost waste system?  KNC has a compost system onsite. All compostable service ware and food scraps (including meat) can be included in one bin. Our staff will transport the contents to our compost area. Standard signage to assist guests is included. We can also assist you with customizing signage language. We have a four-bin system to cover compost, plastic, glass, and landfill destined trash. Additional bins can be designated for items such as returnable bottles.

Beverage Service 
Provide drinkware to use and take home as a gift. Serve beverages from dispensers rather than individual containers. Recycle glass, metal, and plastic containers. Consider gifting your drinkware to your guests. They can use the glass for your event, then take home as a favor.

Tablecloths & Napkins
Fabric tablecloths and napkins give you a choice of color and style. They can be rented for single use or purchased for multiple uses. Purchasing vinyl tablecloths, which are designed to be washed off and reused, is another, somewhat green choice. Again, you’ll have a lifetime supply of table cloths when your event concludes. Paper rolls are another option. In this case, soiled paper must be sent to landfill, but relatively clean paper can be recycled. Finally, plastic tablecloths are the most ecologically unsound option. Because these table coverings go straight to landfill, we urge you to select a different option.

Consider decorations that:

  • Are rented, purchased, or borrowed.
  • Can be repurposed. For example, guests can take home potted flower centerpieces. Pots can be biodegradable or purchased secondhand and decorated.
  • Are sourced from farmers markets including flowers, gourds, and other decorative elements.
  • Alternatively, you may wish to repurpose previously-used materials to create DIY decorations that reflect your taste.  Or, you may wish to repurpose your event decorations afterwards to create a memory-filled keepsake of your event. Decorations can also make great guest favors, including flowers and other goods sourced from our many local farmers markets. If using a florist, select someone who is willing to work with locally grown, perhaps native species to give your event a truly local sensibility.

In a consumption-ripe world, we often forget that we have most, if not all, that we need. In lieu of gifts, consider asking your guests to make a charitable donation to one or more of your favorite nonprofit organizations. At KNC, a combination of financial gifts often provides an opportunity to place a commemorative brick or bench.