HomeThe CSWD BlogEvents5 tips for a trash-free event

5 tips for a trash-free event

Nobody likes waste. If you’re reading this, then you’re already way ahead of the rest of the pack.

Festival-goers sitting on grass and standing around as sun sets behind them.
Photo by InCase
  1. Re-think recycling

    Of course we love recycling, but food – even residue like salad dressing or ketchup – contaminates recyclable materials and that can be hard to avoid at events. Even if you can put a rinsing station right next to the recycling container, it’s hard to count on every guest using it.

    Because of this, recyclable foodware is actually at the bottom of the hierarchy of food-service items (of course, they’re still above disposable).

    Find out more about the hierarchy on the Compostable Products page over at Green Mountain Compost.

  2. Go compostable

    With compostable products—like uncoated paper plates and napkins—the food and the plates can go right into the same container with no need to scrape, rinse, or separate.

    Compostable products don’t need to be expensive (in many cases they’re the cheapest option) but you don’t have to sacrifice elegance, either. There are plates and bowls made from sugarcane, bamboo, and even palm leaves that would seem right at home in the gardens at Downton Abbey.

    Make sure the products you buy will meet the composting specifications at Green Mountain Compost (that’s where compostable products go around here). If products don’t meet their specs, you’ll end up feeding them to the landfill.

  3. Don’t serve food in trash

    A waxed cup with a transparent background
    This cup is trash.

    Avoid these common items that you will have to pay for twice: once when you purchase them and again when you pay to send them to the landfill.

    Plastic cutlery, coffee stirrers, and straws are trash because of their shape (remember “the rule of 2?”). Paper cups are trash, too – they can’t be recycled because they have a coating to keep the liquid inside.

    How can you avoid trash? Serve finger foods that don’t require utensils. Use non-disposable cutlery and glasses that can be washed and re-used. Wood chopsticks and coffee stirrers can go right into the compost with the food scraps, napkins, and plates.You can consider recyclable plastic cups, as long as you’re serving beverages that won’t leave a residue (iced tea—yes; smoothies—no).

    Or you can splurge on disposable cups and utensils that are certified as compostable – they might be a little pricier than their conventional counterparts, but at least you’re only paying for them once.

  4. Borrow collection containers from CSWD!

    We have a variety of compost and recycling containers that can be borrowed, free of charge, for events in Chittenden County.

    Just fill out the online request form to let us know what you need and when – we’ll get in touch to confirm availability and schedule a time for you to pick them up and return them (clean and empty, of course) so they’re available for others.

  5. Brag about it!

    Your efforts will be wasted if your guests don’t know what to do and everything ends up in the trash.

    Make sure your containers are labeled and clearly indicate what belongs where. Highlight your plans in the invitation, agenda, or order of service. Announce it from the stage, podium, or pulpit. Put up signs. Announce your goal and give everyone a chance to feel like they are helping to make it happen.

    And when you’re done, let us know how things went! We’d love to hear your success stories, learn about the innovative solutions you developed, and even learn from your mistakes. Write a blog post, send pictures, or post on our Facebook page, so others can see how it’s done.



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Beth Parent
Beth Parent