ALL OF THE FUN, NONE OF THE WASTEJune 1, 2021
The warm weather is here! This year, more than ever, we are ready to celebrate summer together. In New England, nothing says summer like backyard BBQs with our nearest and dearest. However, paper plates, plastic utensils, and plastic cups create lots of single-use, non-recyclable waste that cannot be picked up by Massachusetts recycling services. Luckily, with a bit of planning and creativity, it is easy to host a (nearly) zero-waste event.
KEEP YOUR GUESTS IN THE LOOP.
Let’s start on the right foot by informing your guests that you intend this event to be zero-waste. You can include a zero-waste request in your electronic invitation – electronic invites are a great way to keep paper out of the recycling bin while saving money too! Encourage your attendees to bring their own reusable mug or water bottle for their beverages. Try serving drinks in large glass dispensers. This is an attractive way to present beverages and a convenient way for partygoers to fill up their reusable containers. Ban colored plastic cups from your event; these cups are made from single-use plastics, which will look as bad in the landfill as they do at your BBQ.
DITCH PREPACKAGED FOODS.
By ordering your BBQ eats in bulk, you can cut down on plastic packaging while significantly reducing your carbon emissions. Individual snacks and small-batch foods are often packaged in non-recyclable, single-use plastics. Meanwhile, there are plenty of bulk foods, including fruits and vegetables, wrapped in compostable packaging. Even better, display large bowls of fruit in their natural packagings like bananas, oranges, and apples – beautiful and waste-free. Do a little research to find the menu that fits best with your zero-waste theme.
SKIP PLASTIC WRAPS AND UTENSILS.
Plastic wraps are a recycling center’s nightmare; they can get caught in the recycling facility’s equipment, causing costly damage. Instead, try using beeswax wraps or silicone lids for leftovers. Both of these items can be used multiple times; I like ENEY wraps and lids. Disposable utensils are also made from plastic that cannot be recycled. Why not give your guest the pleasure of eating with real cutlery at your BBQ and then pop them in the dishwasher at the end of the event. Dishwasher-safe plates and platters are also a great way to minimize waste.
DON’T KEEP THEM GUESSING.
When people are confused about where to recycle, they often don’t. Create tasteful signage with instructions by the drink and food stations. Label your recycling bins, and be sure to have them in multiple places. Your guests will appreciate the assistance, and you will be much closer to having a successful zero-waste event. For printable signs, go to Recycle Across America.
NOBODY IS PERFECT.
Throwing a zero-waste event is a challenge, but it will get easier with practice. Find out what works and what doesn’t, then change things for your next party. With a little effort, you can greatly reduce the waste that your events create for the trash hauling service. This is also a great way to educate friends and generate excitement about zero-waste events. With any luck, you’ll start a trend, and your friends will be inviting you to their own zero-waste BBQs this summer.