Sustainable Events 02: Catering and Waste
Overflowing containers, single-use dishes and cups, mobile toilets. This is the part of our events that is most visible to all of us and often blatantly obvious to visitors. In many areas of life today, the word 'sustainability' is used quite often. In the second episode of our series, let's look at possible alternatives to approach the refreshment and waste sector in a more sustainable way.
We should reach out to environmentally conscious suppliers and manufacturers for our event. Focus on serving refreshments on eco-friendly, easily degradable, or compostable alternatives to single-use plastic tableware. It is also beneficial to reach out to local suppliers who won't have a long drive to the location of our event. In addition, by doing so, we can strengthen relationships with the local community.
In the context of sustainability, it is ideal to focus on those suppliers who process seasonal ingredients and offer vegetarian or vegan options of food. These can be a full substitute for meat-based meals and are generally more environmentally friendly to produce and process.
An interesting and economical way can also be to collect leftover food from other events in the area and donate the leftover food from your own event. There are organizations existing specifically to donate food. In this and similar ways, we can prevent unnecessary waste.
As far as drinking water is concerned, especially at festivals, the established practice of imported water tankers can be replaced with a connection to the local network or a local well.
Thinking about waste management and waste sorting is quite common in event organization compared to other areas. So let's take a look at some tips on how to make your events perhaps a little more sustainable.
The fundamental change that can be made is to look for ways to ideally not create waste at all, or at least to reduce it as much as possible. An interesting solution is to invite visitors to your event to try to act on the motto: "leave no trace." That is, to try to leave as few traces and waste as possible. It is good to expect a certain amount of waste, but at that point, it is important to sort the waste produced.
Instead of disposable cups for liquids, we can use returnable cups that are washable. If our event is a one-time event and we don't want to purchase cups for it, we can try to negotiate a rental. In some cities, for example, we can ask the local town hall, which lends returnable cups for local events. In addition to returnable cups, these can also be the compostable disposable dishes we mentioned above.
When preparing for an event, we should think in a way that our materials can be reused in the future or passed on for use by someone else. This means that we should not throw away the used resources, but rather put the material back into circulation and recycle it. Either by ourselves, for example in future years of the event or at our other events, or the materials can be donated to someone.
Find your own path to sustainability, invent alternatives, and be creative. Don't think "why not," but "how." Even small changes can make a big difference in the bottom line. In the next article, we'll look at a sustainable approach to building and staging your events.