Tips for a Waste Free Gathering

Summer is here, which means BBQs, parties, graduation celebrations, and more! 

While events generally produce large amounts of waste, they don’t have to! Use these tips to help you host a gathering that is more eco-conscious. 


Make Room: If you are planning on having a lot of food, make room in your fridge and freezer the week prior so you can store any leftovers you may end up with. 

Borrow: Before buying what you need for your event (such as folding tables and chairs), ask your friends, family, coworkers, or neighbors if they have something you can borrow. 

Waste Sorting: Prepare clear signage so guests know where to dispose of their waste. The City of Encinitas provides waste sorting signage, or get creative and make your own! 


Decorations: When decorating, think of items you can use for multiple events. String lights are a festive touch for any event, and fabric tablecloths can be reused for years to come. If you are set on using event specific décor, try to aim for items made from uncoated paper so it can be easily recycled. The City of Encinitas recently passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale of all lighter-than-air (helium) balloons, making flags or reusable banners a great alternative. (Note: If opting for recyclable decorations, glitter, glue, and paint will make these options unrecyclable.) 

Serving Ware: Holding a party, especially if it primarily consists of children, may make the idea of using reusable serving ware seem like a disaster. Luckily, there are many products out there which help make this task less daunting. Durable plastic plates, cups, and cutlery can be a great investment for future party endeavors. Simply set up a collection bucket where guests can put their used items to be washed later. Alternatively, you may be able to eliminate the need for cutlery all together by offering finger food. Cloth napkins are also a great alternative to paper towels or napkins. You can inexpensively make these yourself from scrap fabric. 

Food and Drink: Utilize water and drink pitchers rather than providing individual plastic bottles and cans so guests can refill their beverages as they please.  

Waste Sorting: During your event, implement the three-bin system for landfill, recycling, and organics. Be sure to communicate with your guests at the beginning of the event that there are signs by the waste bins that will help them decide what goes where. 

Go a Step Further:  

Do you have a group of friends, neighbors, church, or a Home Owner’s Association that often throws parties? Making a reusable party pack is a great way to allow all materials to be reused repeatedly. Simply designate somebody to be the supply holder, and whenever a party is happening in your group, you can allow the host to use all the supplies in the pack (plates, cups, forks, tablecloths, banners, etc.). Post party, the host can pack all the reusables back up along with any reusable supplies they bought for the party and give them back to the supply holder for the next person to use! 

For more information on the City’s Zero Waste efforts, click here. You can also download this printable guide ahead of your next event.