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.

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.

Indoor Venues

Rent the Timber Framed Barn

Rental Packages

KNC Arboretum

Outdoor Venues

Corporate & NonProfit Rentals

Heronwood Field Station

FAQ: Rentals at KNC

Regular KNC hours are as follows:

Visitor Center; Monday-Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm, Sunday 1-5 pm

The facilities are available after hours. An after hours charge of $125 per hour will be required for rentals, in addition to the rental rate, after 5 p.m. and before opening in the morning. Facilities are available for evening events until 10 p.m. Package rates include the after-hours charge.

No, guests are admitted free. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the trails and exhibits of the Nature Center. Refreshments and/or beverages must remain in the event area.

Yes, you are welcome to have any licensed, insured caterer service your event. We do not require any approval, although we love it when the caterer is interested in providing a “green” event by learning about the composting and recycling options here at the Nature Center. Self- catered food/beverage requires KNC permission and proof of insurance.

Yes, beer and wine only. You need KNC permission, proof of Liability and Host Liquor Liability Insurance Policy, minimum of $1,000,000, with KNC named as additional insured and professional bartender. See KNC Alcohol Policy for details. We ask that only responsible amounts be served.

Set-up and clean-up/take-down are to be completed within the timeframe of the decided rental times and hours of the contract. If you exceed your time, a rate of $125 per hour will be charged, (plus after-hours fee if applicable).

Yes, temporary decorations are allowed, within area rented, as long as you use fish line, rope, or other method to hang items. No nails, staples, or tape can be used. No ladders, step stools, etc., may be used. KNC stewards are available to assist for a fee.

Tables and chairs are included inside Visitor Center spaces and Barn Upper Level. For outdoor spaces you may contract with a rental company to supply them.

 Set-up for Visitor Center spaces and Barn Upper Level is provided. For other spaces, you do the set-up, or your rental company does.

Yes, however KNC staff has the right to control the volume of music.

You need to provide your own media equipment.

No smoking is allowed in buildings, or on the grounds.

No open flame is allowed in any buildings or structures. Grills and other open flame catering must be stationed at least 25 feet away from any building or structure.

Yes, most locations may have a tent(s). Tents requiring staking are not allowed inside the Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden. You must notify KNC staff of your plans.

Birdseed, real flower petals, and bubbles are allowed outside. Flower petals need to be swept up afterwards. No balloons, glitter or live animals, (including but not limited to: butterflies, doves, and dogs) allowed.

Yes, most locations may have a tent(s). Tents requiring staking are not allowed inside the Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden. You must notify KNC staff of your plans.

 Wedding rehearsals and planning visits are permitted prior to the event date during regular business hours. All rehearsals and planning visits must be scheduled with the Facilities Rental Coordinator at least three weeks prior to the event.

Yes, you may make arrangements to use one space. Specific room assignments are not guaranteed. KNC is not responsible for personal belongings lost, damaged and or stolen.

As a nature preserve we never spray pesticides in a general area to control or limit mosquitoes or other insects. Use of pesticide sprays is not allowed. Insects are beneficial and control measures are used only when absolutely necessary.

For self-protection, remember to bring personal use insect repellent, sunscreen, water and any other supplies you need for yourself and your guests. The Visitor Center and Barn Upper Level is fully accessible and equipped with restrooms. There is a running water restroom near the Garden in the play-area.

KNC makes every effort to ensure a beautiful natural setting for your event, weather, animals, and unforeseen events permitting.

You need to plan ahead for a back-up space. No refunds are given on account of the weather.

Rentals are open to KNC members. Our rental program is provided as a benefit of one’s membership at Kalamazoo Nature Center. Rental fees provide you with an extraordinary venue while supporting nature based programming. See membership application for details.

All rentals require a non-refundable 20% down payment and a refundable $500 damage deposit to hold your reservation. A given location is not secured for your use without this payment. Reservations are made with the facilities rental coordinator.

Want to learn more?

We look forward to working with you to create an amazing event! Contact the Events Manager to learn more.

Contact the Events Manager