You’ve probably heard of zero-waste events before. You might have even attended one. They are just like regular events, except they produce exactly zero waste.
Think back to any meeting, party or conference that you’ve attended of the regular variety. At some point, you inevitably find yourself carting around a dirty plate or empty beverage container. When you finally stumble upon a waste bin, the trash is nearly overflowing. Your choices are limited: you can either push the pile down and risk touching someone else’s gross waste residue or precariously balance your waste on top and risk toppling everything. As you weigh your options, a line forms behind you. Flies buzz nearby. You begin to notice a garbage-y odor.
Zero waste probably sounds slightly more appealing right about now.
I’ll readily admit that the first zero-waste event I attended left me a little on edge. No garbage? But what about the hundreds of people consuming all manner of food and drink? And the rows of vendors happily handing out samples? And the live bands? How could this scene produce no waste whatsoever?
There must be a catch, I thought.
After I polished off a deliciously catered meal, I was curious about what came next and found myself feeling a little intimidated by the throngs of people who seemed absolutely unfazed by all the eating, drinking and merrymaking that was producing no waste. I made my way to an unassuming group of bins, each one sporting a colorful sign. There was a bin for compostable utensils, cups and napkins, another for aluminum cans, and even one for food scraps. Soon, my hands were free.
If you want to catch the attention of eco-conscious prospects, why not host a zero-waste open house at your office or available properties?
Here are a few ideas you might want to explore:
• Publicize online and avoid paper handouts: Market your event on social networking sites, your Web site or by email rather than printing and mailing paper invitations. And avoid preparing handouts or other printed materials for the event. Instead, just stick to a PowerPoint presentation during the event and direct attendees to your Web site for additional information.
• Use reusable name badge holders: You can either collect them after the event and reuse again or invite attendees to reuse them. Spend the extra coin for a plant-based badge holder. I’ve been carrying around a reusable name badge holder in my bag for several years. Every time I attend a meeting or event where sticky nametags are encouraged, I whip out my holder and skip the line.
• Support community gardens, urban farms and local shops: If you’re going to provide your guests with food, keep it simple. Depending on the season, a large bowl of strawberries from a local farm would be hard for almost anyone to resist. Or provide a selection of two or three local cheeses, accompanied by breads from a local bakery. Let attendees know where things came from and what’s in them.
• Drink to your health: Provide a pitcher of water, along with a fair-trade, locally roasted coffee. If your area is lucky enough to have a locally produced soda or fruit beverage, indulge a little.
• Compost food scraps: For a small gathering, you can easily take scraps to a private compost bin—maybe you have one in your yard or you know someone who does. For larger events, find out if your city has a commercial composting facility.
• Provide recycling bins: Provide separate and well-marked collection bins for recyclable materials. Place interesting facts about the various materials on the bins to invite conversations on the subject.
• Consider compostable products: If you’re serving something more than finger foods, opt for utensils made of compostable materials rather than petroleum-based plastics. If your event is small enough to provide reusable glassware and silverware, go for it.
Here are more ideas for your zero-waste event.
If you’ve attended a zero-waste event, what was your experience like?