What is sustainable catering and why should you care?

Catering is a major part of most corporate functions and we all need to eat, but it can also be costly – on the environment. Did you know that food is responsible for up to one third of all greenhouse gases from human activities, every year? It’s for reasons like this that many organisations (especially those that hold regular events) are becoming interested in ‘sustainable catering’ when it comes to their corporate catering events.

Sustainable catering refers to catering that takes into account the toll of food preparation and consumption on the environment. This does not mean that all the food and materials at such events needs to be ‘green’ or recyclable (a recycled paper plate is not necessarily a more ‘green’ choice than a china one) but rather that care is taken to incorporate as many environmental friendly elements into the food preparation and delivery as possible. In short, sustainable catering involves taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint while still feeding our guests.

Planning a sustainable catering event at your office?

Take these factors into account when deciding on the menu with your caterer:

1. Go for sustainable food choices

Plan your menu to include fresh and seasonable produce, organic options, and Fair Trade produce (tea, coffee, and chocolate are the usual suspects in this category).

2. Meat has its drawbacks

As delicious as meat is, a vegetarian menu has a much lower carbon footprint and, prepared by the right hands, can be equally as delicious and fulfilling. If you’re going for fish instead, a word of warning – certain fish species are on the endangered list and therefore should be off your menu.

3. Local is indeed lekker

Local produce is kinder to the environment as there are no transport costs and much fewer packaging costs than with imported produce. Interested in where your food comes from? Ask your caterer where they source their ingredients from – there are a number of environmentally friendly farming systems that offer great quality food grown in an ethically responsible way.

4. Go green when it comes to catering supplies

Provide water jugs instead of plastic bottles, refillable sugar canisters instead of sachets, and recyclable utensils rather than plastic ones. You can even provide glass markers so your guests can mark their glasses and re-use them during the day, rather than taking a fresh glass with every drink. If you can, go all out and use linen napkins instead of paper ones to avoid unnecessary waste.

5. Minimise food wastage

Too often, large events such as corporate functions result in an enormous (and often unnecessary) waste of food. Work with your caterer to get your numbers and quantities right so that food wastage is minimised and (depending on the meal) consider alternative ways of ‘disposing’ of any excess foods that does not involve throwing them in the dustbin e.g. by donating the food to a charity.

Whatever your event, sustainable catering could be an option for your organisation – one that is ethically sound and socially responsible.

Want to talk all things corporate catering? We can help you design the perfect menu for your event, whatever the criteria.