Have you ever felt queasy when attending an event because everything is served in plastic or Styrofoam and then disposed of in trash cans? If you are organizing a gathering or celebration in your local community this summer, consider making it a “zero waste” event. More and more people are jumping on the bandwagon of zero waste, defined by the Zero Waste International Alliance as “The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.” Zero waste events may require pre-planning, communications, and oversight, but the effort is well worth it. Suggest participants bring their own reusable plates, utensils, cups and cloth napkins, and if it is a fee event give them a discount if they do. In case they don’t, make sure all food provided by vendors is served on recyclable or compostable containers, and provide well-labeled bins for used items so there’s no contamination. Definitely don’t offer single-serve packets of condiments or other single-use plastic like coffee stirrers or straws! And don’t forget to include an educational component by announcing it is a zero waste event, explaining your goals and how everyone can help, and giving the kids (non-plastic) zero waste event stickers to promote this important movement. It’s easy and fun, and makes everyone feel good!

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