Zero Waste Events & Planning Guide
Planning An Event?
Put sustainability into action by looking for ways to reduce waste at your event ~ make it a Zero Waste Event!
Tools to get you started:
- Accepted Compostable Service Ware
- Collection containers and signage for your event
- Event Planning Guide
- Zero Waste Event FAQ
- Zero Waste Event Planning Worksheet
Zero waste events are for any type of event.
Whether your event is a company picnic, sporting competition, family reunion, or neighborhood get together, we can help you reduce waste!
What is the goal of a zero waste event?
The goal is to reduce waste to the greatest extent possible. For many events, planning a zero waste event involves taking steps toward more successful recycling, starting to collect food-scraps and eventually having little to no garbage collected at your event.
The City lends out collection bins, signage, and bags to help you plan the event as waste-free as possible. Pictured right is a collection station at an outdoor event. Materials are lent out on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure you plan ahead when requesting collection materials for your event.
Check out our Event Loaner Program Flyer to share this FREE program with others.
Read below for helpful tips and ideas on creating a zero waste event. For a summary of the information below, check our out Event Planning Guide .
Where to Start:
Event planning is key to creating a successful zero waste event. Identify areas where you can reduce or eliminate waste and then set goals for yourself.
- Be creative and have fun.
- Develop strategies you can use long-term.
- Communicate your goals to organizers and participants.
- Success is a team effort.
Event Advertising Tips
- Use electronic media (website, email, electronic newsletters) for publicizing the event.
- Offer electronic registration or confirmation.
- Use flyers sparsely and strategically, for example where people congregate (like food lines).
- Design signs that are timeless so that you can reuse them at your next event or use recyclable signs.
Food at Your Event
- Forecast the head count to avoid food waste. Use RSVPs or registration to assist in forecasting.
- Use finger foods and serve food buffet style.
- Use washable tableware, cups, flatware and linens, or compostable dishware.
- Provide incentives for attendees to bring reusable items (mugs, utensils, etc.)
- Seek caterers that can maximize the use of local, seasonal, and organic food and use only recyclable packaging, and as little as possible.
Collecting Recyclables at the Event
- Place several recycling containers strategically at the event.
- Clearly mark containers with large, reusable signs and place small, reusable signs on each table.
- Determine where and how materials will be recycled (i.e., if food waste is collected, where will it be composted, and how will you get it there?)
- Develop plans for collecting bottles, cans, food waste, and recyclable paper.
- Buy in bulk to cut down on packaging and cost.
- Take leftover food scraps to a local composter, or donate them to a local shelter or food bank.
Decorations and Handouts
- Avoid mass distribution of handouts (printed material). Instead, make the printed material or presentation available electronically.
- Print double-sided.
- Avoid lamination, unless you can reuse the publication next time.
- Keep decorations to a minimum.
- Use real plates, napkins, and tablecloths. It will add class to your event, and will be a great decoration element.
- Use decorations that can be recycled or reused.
- Provide, and later collect, reusable name badges.
- Consider the environmental impact of prizes and their packaging.
- Give resource or energy efficient products.
- Give items that are usable, such as cloth bags, native plant seeds, and potted plants.
- Select products made from recycled materials.
Celebrate and Share Your Success
- Bring a scale so you can weigh your recyclables and garbage; it will help "tell your story".
- Take photographs of the event that demonstrate results.
- Create a report to document your success.
- Communicate your results with participants.
- Share the results at your next zero waste function.
For more information about Zero Waste events contact:
Kim Johnson, Program Specialist | 360.570.5837 | firstname.lastname@example.org