The hazards associated with single-use plastic are a matter of great concern today, affecting our environment severely. Single-use plastics are used only once and disposed of which are not recycled or destroyed because they are not biodegradable. It keeps on accumulating and adds to wastage. We must reduce the use of plastics in our daily lives and replace items with recyclable or biodegradable products. The initiative can start from an individual level and can spread to the social and organizational levels to bring some significant changes by creating a cleaner environment. In social and cultural events involving many people and activities, plastic-free initiatives can create a positive impact depending on the size and scale of the event.
It appears difficult to think about a plastic-free event, but with some innovative thinking and change in habits, you can avoid the use of a large number of plastic materials. By taking some conscious steps you can significantly reduce the handling of plastic products and can avoid generating plastic waste during and after the catering event. You can save a lot of time and effort cleaning the litter and avoid filling the landfills and water streams. The carbon footprint of the event will reduce significantly as no plastic waste is generated although a large number of people are involved in it. Here we are providing five tips on how you can create a plastic-free event by adopting some effective methods and encouraging participants to follow the guidelines while maintaining quality expectations.
Promote the catering event as plastic-free highlighting the benefits to be achieved. You need to educate staff, volunteers, vendors, and suppliers about the plastic-free opportunities and help them take necessary actions accordingly. Event organizers should ensure that the promotional items used by suppliers, performers, or decorators must be made of recyclable materials. The traditional practice of using plastics in different areas should be carefully avoided to meet the required criteria and promote the uniqueness of the event to create a positive impact on the environment. The marketing and communications regarding the event must focus on encouraging attendees to use plastic-free items.
Make it mandatory for all vendors to supply only reusable or compostable food ware by including specific requirements in the contracts with vendors. Vendors should be informed and convinced about the policies adopted in organizing the catering event and ensure adherence. Stainless steel cutleries with a washable option can be considered. No straws should be used and paper plates with plastic coatings are also to be avoided. Initially, for promotion purposes, you can provide reusable cutlery and crockery for vendors’ use free of charge. Identify and engage a food ware provider that specializes in reusable plates, glasses, and cutleries at events. Use compostable food packaging to package edibles. Plates and containers made of plant products are available in beautiful designs that are well appreciated in many such catering events.
Plastic water bottles are the major source of waste in any catering event, so provide participants with compostable or reusable containers for water. Arrange water filling stations at different points where guests can conveniently refill water as per requirement. Provide clear instructions to use water refilling points or portable water filling arrangements across the event and encourage the use of refillable water bottles. This will also ensure less water wastage along with preventing plastic waste. Branded recyclable cups could be used or otherwise provide drinks in metal cans, glass bottles, or certified compostable containers.
The decoration is an integral part of an event that uses a lot of plastic and synthetic materials. These are mostly non-reusable and produce a major quantity of post-event litter. Look for vendors who are experts in using beautiful decorating items in the events with biodegradable or recyclable materials. Avoid using plastic balloons and use paper-made decorating materials to grace the occasion. The lighting arrangement can be sourced from environment-friendly solar power. The best way to decorate the event is to use natural plants and flowers that improve the aesthetics and looks. Decorate your space with pot plants or cut flowers to give it a different and refreshing look.
Waste generation in events is obvious even if we control plastic use and promote recyclable materials. The important point is the segregate the wastes properly to make them suitable for recycling, composting, or degradation. Some portion of the waste is biodegradable and some portions are recyclable. Bin stations should focus on a three-bin system for composting, recycling, and other types of waste to make further waste treatments useful and convenient. Clear indications are essential to ensure the correct use of bins. Volunteers help guide attendees on the correct usage and ensure effective and timely removal of waste and replacement with new bins whenever necessary.
The highest disadvantage of plastic is that it is neither biodegradable nor recyclable. Plastic wastes pollute landfills and water bodies and poses threat to the ecosystem. We can reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by taking some effective measures. We can make our lifestyle choices and think about how we can make our contribution to addressing the problem of plastic pollution by taking some conscious and simple steps that would bring positive results in the long run.
Browse the I’m Plastic Free directory to discover plastic pollution solutions.