So, you want to put on a single-use plastic free event?
First of all: Congrats! By being here, you are already part of the effort to make our world a better place- so thank you!
If you’ve never put on an event like this, you must be wondering how to accomplish such a feat? Well, the good news is others have done this very same task and succeeded! Some inspiration and examples of zero-waste events include:
- The Jack Johnson All at Once Tour
- The San Francisco Farmers Markets
- USC Zero-Waste Events at the Los Angeles Coliseum
- SD Green New Deal Picnic in Balboa Park (August 2021)
- Photos below of the SD Green New Deal Picnic were kindly contributed by Ron Askeland (Sierra Club). Reusable foodware was provided by the San Diego Surfrider chapter
Below are FOUR MAJOR STEPS that YOU can use to put on a successful and fun event that is free of single-use plastic:
1. Use reusable serviceware (plates, cups, utensils, etc.)
- This will save you money in the long run, and greatly lowers the impact of your event on the environment.
- Guide by the Clean Water Action org. to the different types of reusable versus single-use service ware items, where you can buy them, and the cost/benefit analyses.
- Life-cycle analysis by ‘Upstream’ on the different types of reusable versus single-use service ware items.
So.. you want to use reusables, but you can’t afford to stock up and buy everything you need?
- You can rent out reusable service ware for an affordable price from local companies and/or organizations.
- Some environmentally friendly organizations (such as Surfrider San Diego) might even lend you the reusable serviceware for free, with just a holding deposit!
- Businesses in San Diego are currently underway and will provide full service rentals, including delivery, pickup and wash (aka- you don’t even have to clean the dishes!)
- You can purchase reusable serviceware, such as cups, printed with your branded company or event logo. You can charge the event attendees a small cost for the cups when they buy their drinks. They can either keep the reusable cup as a souvenir or return it for their deposit back.
- You can ask event attendees to bring their own reusable service ware (cups, plates and utensils, cloth napkins) and then provide washing stations for the attendees.
2. Use compostable paper or bamboo-based materials. Try to stay away from the so-called ‘compostable’ bioplastic materials. Turns out, a lot of those items don’t degrade properly in a landfill, or if they get loose into the environment. So best to avoid them completely. Similarly, avoid single-use recyclable aluminum materials, these are actually worse for the environment than single-use plastic! (Upstream 2021 Report)
- Here is an example company that sells bambooware: https://ecopartywarehouse.com/
3. Skip the plastic decorations and party favors (plastic table covers, balloons, and plastic-wrapped treats).
- Instead opt for cloth tablecloths, paper-based decorations, sustainably sourced flowers or potted plants, and seeds (flowers or trees) for party favors.
- Here is a great place to source some sustainable party favors and decorations: https://ecopartytime.com/wedding-favors/
4. Source the food and beverages from places that minimize plastic packaging. If you and your friends are preparing all of the food yourself- then opt for buying produce that is not pre-wrapped in plastic (if you have that option). Remember- bagging your produce in a plastic produce bag before you reach the check-out line is unnecessary – Just give it a good wash when you get home.
- Steer clear of individually wrapped, “snack size” items like juice boxes, chip bags or cookies. Always buy in bulk!
- Instead of providing water bottles at your event, provide filtered water at bottle refill stations.
- Provide ice-stations if it is a hot day (and provide tongs so people can help themselves while remaining sanitary)
- Provide beer, wine, juice, soda, coffee and/or sparkling water on-tap to fill up all those reusable cups that people have at your event (*glass cups are often not allowed for permitted events!).
We hope this is helpful- and stay tuned for more tips!