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 zero waste event, so you'll have zero excuses and lots of good reasons to go waste-free.

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.

Re-think your resources

Do you really need to go out and buy disposable tablecloths for your one-off event? 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: ask people to bring their own along to cut down on paper plate and plastic cutlery waste, which can be difficult to recycle when covered in sticky jam! Better yet, try to serve finger food to cut down on the need for these items at all.
  • 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.

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:

  • Ask people to RSVP for your event 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. 
  • Pool ingredients with your neighbours or friends to prevent doubling up on ingredients or dishes. Check out Olio, a food sharing app, which connects neighbours with each other and local shops to redistribute surplus food.
  • 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.
  • Try a pot-luck event where everyone attending brings something small to share. You'll get a great variety of dishes and there will be enough food to go around.

On the day

  • Take inspiration from children's birthday parties: the bit they look forward to the most is the party bag! Make sure to have recyclable bags or containers so that people can take home whatever leftovers you have and eat for free for the next few days. 
  • 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!
Take our Big Lunch survey
Win a trip for 4 to the Eden Project!