Photo by Katt Yukawa on Unsplash

Events often require a surplus of things, the extras for ‘in case’ so that nothing runs out on the day. But what happens when the event is finished and these things – often unused – are no longer needed? Or what about the items that are only used during the event but are no longer needed afterwards?

Donations can be a great sustainable solution to this problem. Not only can donations divert waste from landfill, but they can be an opportunity to support a worthwhile cause and potentially achieve a client’s or one’s own CSI objectives.

Event Greening Forum (EGF) NPO chairperson Morwesi Ramonyai says, “Events have the potential to become wonderful donors for the very many community investment projects and NGOs that operate in South Africa, and which supply critical services and support to those in need. Donating tends to carry little to no cost and is not difficult to do. It’s a clear win-win scenario.”


How to do it well

Morwesi shares that, as for all forms of event greening, it’s best to consider donations in the early planning stages of your event. “Don’t leave it till your event is wrapping up to find donors. Rather, in your planning stages, earmark items that can be donated and contact suitable recipients. Suitable recipients include those local to where the event is being hosted, those who are aligned with your events goals and values, and those who will gain real value from the items you are donating and are willing to receive them,” she elaborates.


Great donation examples

Food: Although most planners and venues try to keep excess food to a minimum, it’s not uncommon to have a surplus. When this could happen, it’s best to work with an established organisation that deals with food redistribution and can guide you on the necessary health and safety considerations. Examples include Chefs with Compassion, Nosh and SA Harvest.

Billboards and marketing materials: Some innovative local companies source non-recyclable materials headed for landfill to upcycle into useful new items. For example, E’Yako Green ( turns donated PVC and polyester marketing waste from billboards and banners into bags and corporate gifts. The company has built a network of mostly small producers in Durban and Johannesburg who they work with. Carey Moran, owner of E’Yako Green, explains, “We partner, mentor and capacitate these small businesses to be part of our supply chain.”

Stand materials, straws, candles and chip packets: Another upcycling company is Johannesburg-based Upcycle Creative ( Like E’Yako Green they accept PVC and polyester banners, but they also take many other items. Director Winnie McHenry explains, “We accept most things that are not recyclable, including (but not limited to) MDF board from custom exhibition stands, pull up banners, plastic straws, chip packets and used candles.”

Upcycle Creative also runs a training programme to upskill young entrepreneurs who can earn an income from the sale of their zero-waste products. Winnie adds that corporates can rest assured that their branding will never appear on any of their products.

“The list of what you can donate and how is endless,” concludes Morwesi. “And over time you’ll likely develop strong partnerships with the organisations you can help, which in turn can lead to very positive long-term support and upliftment.”

TOP TIP: Remember to request written acknowledgement of the donation from the recipient, for accountability, transparency and any applicable benefits that may apply.


Cover image: Photo by Katt Yukawa on Unsplash