Food & Drink

Key questions

  • What kind of food and drink and catering options do you offer or use for your team, audiences or visitors, or for the festivals, events and courses you organise?
  • To what extent do you already offer or choose mainly plant-based options, and sustainable food and drink options?
  • What can you do, and who do you need to work with, to increase the offer of plant-based and sustainable food and drink options?
  • Are your food and drink suppliers or the catering companies or traders you work with committed to positive environmental change?
  • What can you do, and who do you need to work with, to eliminate single use serve ware and food waste?

Offer or ask for more plant-based and sustainable food and drink options. Work with suppliers, caterers or traders committed to positive environmental change. Avoid single use serve ware and food waste.

Top Tips

  • Offer or ask for more or mainly plant-based, vegetarian and vegan options for office, venue, festival and event catering.
  • Offer or ask for more sustainable food and drink options (organic, pesticide-free, responsibly sourced, seasonal, fair trade, high animal welfare, non air-freighted, community grown). Local can be good too, especially in supporting local producers and growers, but the environmental impact of food is more related to food type and how it is produced, than how it is transported.
  • Choose suppliers, catering companies or traders who are taking positive environmental steps already or open to working with you on this.
  • Ask caterers working in your building or traders for events to follow good environmental practice e.g. on energy, water, waste etc.
  • Look at options for eliminating or reducing single use serve ware, packaging and problem plastics either directly or working with suppliers and service providers, catering companies or traders.
  • Use reusable serve ware where and when possible. If single use serve ware is unavoidable, choose serve ware which is made from recycled materials, sustainably sourced wood or compostable plant-based materials.
  • If compostable packaging and serve ware is used, make sure the appropriate waste separation facilities and disposal are in place so it does get composted and doesn’t end up in landfill or waste incineration.
  • Provide or ask for tap water, jugs and glasses / reusable cups, canned water and water refill options.
  • Don’t overorder on food quantities.
  • Redistribute surplus food working with local charities or community groups.
  • Explore options for growing food at your venue or building or collaborating with local or community food growing initiatives.

Food & Drink


Person outdoors smiling and gardening and wearing gloves holding up some root vegetables
Julie's Bicycle 'Food Culture: The impacts of what we consume'
This report, developed under Arts Council England's Environmental Programme, is for anyone working in the cultural sector who wants to understand the environmental and social impacts of food and drink choices and how minimise them as an individual consumer and as a cultural organisation.
Image of plastic covering someone, an artwork-type image
Julie's Bicycle - Culture Beyond Plastic: Understanding and Eliminating
This report, developed under Arts Council England's environmental programme, explores the environmental issues associated with plastics and what the creative sector can do to tackle plastic pollution, providing practical tips and case studies from across the UK.
Silhouette image of crowd at bright music festival
Julie’s Bicycle Guide ‘Raising the Bar: Choosing the Most Sustainable Cup Type for Your Indoor Venue’
This report aims to support indoor venues of all sizes with clear guidance on the most environmentally sustainable cup solutions. It summarises key findings from previous reports, provides a snapshot of current cup systems in use at UK indoor venues and sets out best practice guidance.
Creative Carbon Scotland - Guide to preventing, reducing and recycling waste
This guide explains the rights and responsibilities of Scottish arts and cultural organisations when considering waste, including short case studies from Green Arts Initiative members and links to further resources.
Basket of Vegetables
Sustain - The Good Food for Festivals Guide
This guide, published by Sustain in partnership with A Greener Festival, highlights key food and drink, water and waste sustainability issues facing the festival community. It provides advice and case studies on tackling the issues in a practical way.
BFI Film Audience Network - Green Hour - Sustainable Procurement
Video / Webinar
This webinar looks at how to implement ethical, low-carbon procurement processes, and the organisational demands and benefits of responsible sourcing. Natasha Padbury (Office & Sustainability Manager, Depot Cinema) and Simon Curtis (Chair, Greater Manchester Arts Sustainability Team) share practical examples from their experiences of working with local suppliers, and provide inspiration on how to make place-based, climate-driven decisions that lead to meaningful change.
Reusable Festival Cups
Manchester City Council - Reusable Cups at Events: Why it matters and how to do it
The guide for organisers of outdoor events in Manchester (and beyond) is relevant for urban and greenfield sites, one-day and multiday events, large and small. It is also applicable for indoor event management, and of interest to anyone serving drinks in licensed premises. It outlines the benefits of reusable cups, provides advice about how to manage reusable cup systems, and offers examples and tips.
Food Packaging
Hubbub - Reuse systems unpacked: challenges and opportunities for food and drink packaging
This guide explores the challenges and opportunities for reusable food and drink packaging.
Julie's Bicycle - Can We Make Touring Greener?
Reflections and recommendations on greener touring and green riders – how to approach and what to ask of host venues.

Food & Drink


People gathering around for food
Grand Union's community-led growing scheme
Metal Culture's journey to selecting more sustainable suppliers
Community gardens
Chapter Cardiff community garden
Recycle bin
Depot Lewes approach to sustainable procurement and waste management
People outdoors, high street with Scott Cinemas on the left of the image
Scott Cinemas' Waste Management approach
Image Credits
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