Summer is approaching, and with it so many great reasons to gather and celebrate: graduations, Father’s Day barbecues, and block parties. You have the opportunity to make these events even better by reducing waste with a little pre-cycling and composting.

You may be asking: what is pre-cycling? We first came across this term in a book entitled 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. It recommends buying items only if you can recycle or compost the packaging. This same concept can be applied– with great effect–to party planning. With a little thought beforehand, you can compost or recycle pretty much everything from a party. We call this a Zero Waste Event. Some sticklers say that it isn’t possible to have a Zero Waste Event, but if zero waste is your goal, you can come pretty close. Our founder Erlene Howard’s definition of a Zero Waste Event is one in which “nothing goes to the landfill that does not absolutely have to.”

Zero Waste Events have at least three benefits. The obvious benefit is the diversion of food scraps and compostable products from the event proper. The not-so-obvious benefit is that it is an educational opportunity to demonstrate how to dramatically reduce waste by making some different choices. A lot of us live in an environmentalism bubble, but some people have neither been to a Zero Waste Event nor heard of commercial composting. Zero Waste Events also provide an opportunity to talk about how diverting your food scraps through composting is something we can all do to combat climate change.

A lot of you are already Collective Resource, Inc. customers. You have an advantage because we are already swapping out buckets or totes of compostable items for you. If you need extras, just let us know and we can get them to you. Additional buckets are just $5.50 each.

Different choices: Reusables, Compostables,
Recyclables

Consider whether you could use reusables. Can you borrow from other guests to have enough? Can you rent what you need?

If you absolutely need to use disposables, make them all compostable and use real silverware.

Do not assume that you are going to need forks, knives, and spoons for everyone. It really depends on the menu. Think that through before you purchase.

If you do need to purchase party supplies, don’t open all of the packages. Open them only as you need them so you can return what you don’t use.

There are additional resources on our website under the Services: Zero Waste Events tab.

Buy all of your beverages in cans. Aluminum cans are happily accepted in most, if not all, recycling programs.

If guests are disposing of the waste themselves, set up a waste station that makes it very clear where everything goes. Make signs even if you think that it is obvious. It might not be obvious to your guests. For the real silverware, take a Pyrex dish and put a fork in it.

CRI in the News

Did you see this article about us in the Chicago Tribune and Evanston Review? Pioneer Press reporter Genevieve Bookwalter wrote an Earth Day article about how a woman-owned company (That’s us!) helps the City of Evanston run the biggest municipal compost program in the state of Illinois.

Author Details
Zero Waste Consultant , Collective Resource, Inc

Mary Beth strongly believes that, “It’s always better to be doing something rather than nothing.” If you’re thinking of composting at home, she can help you work out what your particular “something” can be.

She’s confident a solution can be tailored to fit anyone’s needs and ambitions. “Anyone who eats can be a CRI customer, whether you are an individual or a large organization. I want you to understand the advantages of composting, and I can show you how CRI can make it easy.” Mary Beth has successfully designed waste diversion strategies for individuals, schools, houses of worship and other communities. She’s received the governor’s Environmental Hero award for her work at her daughter’s school. Whether you’re starting with a backyard bin, a kitchen bucket, a worm farm, or large-scale commercial collection, Mary Beth can be your good-natured guide.