HOSTING LOW WASTE EVENTS
by Jennifer Tacheny and Karen Olson, Earth Partners
A low waste event focuses on conserving and recovering materials for later use rather than destroying them.
Considerations for planning a large-scale, low waste event include:
- Using cloth napkins rather than disposable.
- No paper placemats.
- No disposable dishes.
- Collecting food scraps after each snack and meal. Most food scraps went to our garden compost bin. Meat, bones, grease, whole eggs, and dairy scraps went into our industrial compost bucket which was later brought to Eureka Recycling* to be composted.
- All paper towels from bathrooms were also added to our industrial compost bucket and taken to Eureka*.
- Using dry erase white boards rather than sheets of paper for presenter notes.
- Minimizing handouts by posting speaker notes and other contact information on our blog and facebook.
- Ordering locally grown/sustainably raised food for all our meals.
- Using lettuce and herbs from our community garden for daily meals.
- Inviting participant to bring used t-shirt upon which to paint event logo rather than ordering new t-shirts.
In participant reviews of POWER Summit, our low waste efforts received great praise and appreciation. This effort was a visible example of our commitment to Earth and sustainability.
The CSJs have hosted a number of large events that were low-waste: POWER Summit
, the 2008 dedication of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Randolph Campus as an International Peace Site, and our most recent Great Green Gathering
. We used "Ecotainers" to hold our beverages and 100% biodegradable compostable trash bags to collect
these containers after use. Our programs were printed on recycled paper products and leftovers collected to be recycled again. Since one of the major principles of our designation as an International Peace site is our stance on environmental protection, the designation as a zero waste event seemed fitting.
"Bio bags" for trash are available at stores such as Whole Foods but are also on the shelves at big box grocers like Cub. They are usually not stocked at eye level, so look up or down to find them. Cellulose based bags for personal lunch items are also available. The "Ecotainer" must be purchased in bulk and is available from javastock.com
at the lowest pricing. "Ecotainers" can hold hot beverages and are made from renewable resources. They are petroleum free and are 100% compostable. Conventional paper cups have a lining made from petroleum and may contain chlorine. The "Ecotainer" is chlorine free and the lining is 100% corn based and the paper of the cup is made from trees harvested sustainably.
Most of these products are now competitively priced as demand has increased their supply in today's market, proving that every day can be earth day.
Planning a zero waste event takes a bit of energy and creative thinking and it’s well worth it in the end.
To learn more about zero waste and how the city of St. Paul sets a goal to be zero-waste by 2020, visit http://www.eurekarecycling.org/