Zero waste event tips

It might be the last thing on your mind as you plan and organise your event, but cutting down on waste can not only make your event more eco-friendly, it can also cut down cost and help you get to know people better in the process.

We've put together some hints and tips to help you hold a low or zero waste event during the Month of Community this year, to make it easier.

It's all in the planning

If you begin your planning with a waste-free theme in mind, it's much easier to integrate into your day. Make it a challenge for you and your community to find as many ways as possible to cut down on waste during and after your event.

Fight food waste

A lot of people worry that there won't be enough food at their event, but this is rarely the case. The best way to fight food waste is not buy or make too much in the first place, so here are a few ways to get savvy with your servings if you are preparing food to share this year:

  • Ask people to RSVP so you can get a rough idea of how much food you'll need.
  • See what food you already have in your cupboards that could be whipped up into something yummy, rather than going out and buying more. 
  • Plan what food you’re preparing with neighbours or friends to prevent doubling up on ingredients or dishes.
  • Check out Too Good to Go, the free app that lets you rescue surplus, unsold food from local shops and restaurants. Simply download the app, see which businesses near you have surplus food, then buy a 'Magic Bag' of surprise, unsold items for a great price, and pick them up!
  • Buy seasonal food from local producers. By eating seasonally you reduce the need for most packaging and transport, and you'll be able to give the wonky fruit and veg that would otherwise be destined for the bin a good home.

Re-think your resources

Do you really need to go out and buy disposable tablecloths for your tables? Make a list of items you would normally buy to throw away, and see if you can source sustainable alternatives. Here are a few ways you could make a swap: 

  • Paper tablecloths: replace these with anything from old curtains to bed sheets that can be washed and used again, rather than throwing away lots of paper cloth.
  • Crockery and cutlery: lots of people are following our Top Tips for a safe Big Lunch and opting for a bring-your-own approach to food this year. So asking people to bring their own crockery and cutlery along makes perfect sense - and helps cut down on paper plate and plastic cutlery waste, which can be difficult to recycle when covered in sticky jam!
  • Decorations: make bunting out of things you've gathered and saved from going in the bin. You could use plastic bags, old clothes, newspaper and even shoe laces. Old jam jars and tins make great vases for home-grown flowers; jazz them up with ribbons or paint them.

On the day

  • Take inspiration from children's birthday parties: the bit they look forward to the most is the party bag! You could nominate a volunteer to pack any leftover food up into receyclable containers - and give it to people to take home at the end of the event so it doesn't go to waste. 
  • Tidy as you go: have plenty of clearly labelled recycling and rubbish bins set up to make it easy for people to correctly dispose of items throughout the day.
  • Pat yourself on the back for holding an awesome, waste-free event as part of the Month of Community!

Too Good to Go is the world's largest online marketplace for surplus food.  On a mission to empower everyone to take action against food waste, their passionate Waste Warriors save food from over 7,000 UK businesses.  The free app connects retailers with surplus food available, to local consumers who purchase, collect and enjoy it.  Download the app to save a meal or scan the QR code below.