Although March 30th is Zero Waste Day around the world, there’s no need to wait another year to start creating a Zero Waste community. With spring and summer almost here, it’s time to enjoy some of our favourite outdoor activities like music concert, festivals and other outdoor public events! 

Something not often thought about, by most, is how much garbage and recycling festivals and events generate. As we think about ways to live a Zero waste lifestyle, minimizing waste generated in public settings is just as important as minimizing the waste we created at home or work. 

Organizing an event with a focus on minimizing waste does take some planning and thought and very doable. Recently Urban Impact attended the Best Practice Discussion: Zero Waste Events for the City of Victoria. The event was hosted by the Coast Waste Management Association and showcased a few exceptional organizations and the work they are doing to help our communities reduce waste and reuse.   

Reusable Containers and Cups 

A big win in reducing waste at an event or festival is by using reusable containers and cutlery.  There are several options for reusable plates, containers, cups and glasses.  Rental companies exist in most urban centers. One company making strides in the area is Sharewares. 

Sharewares provides reusable cups and take out containers for events, businesses and individuals. Similar to the “Refund-It” program, Sharewares “rents” reusable food and beverage contains, for a small deposit.  The deposit is refunded upon return.  Each container has a scannable QR code, which you scan when you select the item. When you are finished with the container, you can then scan it again upon return. Your deposit is sent back to you electronically.

Another company helping reduce waste at events and festivals is Sustainable Fox. This company connects local businesses and organizations, in Victoria BC, in their community to help make their events Zero Waste.

Both organizations have employed people at events to help event goers properly return their re-usable items. These people are known as “binners”.  They help event patrons scan the QR code and direct them to the proper return bin.  These organizations have found that by staffing “binners” it helps get more returned items, keeps cross contamination low and helps keep the event looking clean. 

Tips for Creating a Zero Waste Event 

Creating a Zero Waste event or festival does require some pre-planning and organization. Here are some tips on creating a Zero Waste event:

  • Do a simple Waste Assessment for each event.
  • Strategize based off the findings of the Waste Assessment.
  • Plan out the event to maximize opportunity for it to be a Zero Waste event. Choosing low waste activities and exhibits is one way to achieve this goal.
  • Implement the Zero Waste Plan.
  • Support attendees in the efforts to reduce and reuse with Zero Waste signs and staff with “binners”.
  • Share resources or supplies with other local events and rent what you need, instead of buying it.
  • Make sure to include your Zero Waste intentions in all marketing pieces for your event so your event participants are prepared and ready to help create Zero Waste.

Next time you are planning an event or festival, ordering take-out or wanting to participate at an event as a “binner”, keep in mind these tips.

If there is no waste in the first place, cleaning up is a whole lot easier!