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Waste free tips for gatherings

Planning is the key

With attempting anything waste-free, planning is the key. There is the temptation to make things easy and as such, throw-away or disposal items are all too tempting. To start preparing for a waste-free party, gathering or event event, especially your first go at it, start planning early. This may be new for others as well as yourself, so there is a lot to consider.

You might be the event planner, but it is helpful to let guests know what you are planning for your event. Ask them to consider a waste-free approach as well in coming to the event. This will be very new for some so they may need help and some ideas.

Check List for a waste-free event 

  • Write a list of everything you will need for the event

  • Circle the items that will create waste – consumption of food or drink, games, activities, decorations etc

  • For each item, design a plan to remove, reduce, reuse or recycle the waste that would be generated.  Some ideas below for popular event needs.

  • Consider in your plans:

    • how to involve others

    • how to first eliminate the creation of any waste at all

    • if you can’t eliminate, how can you reduce the waste

    • if you can’t reduce the waste, ask how you can ensure it is recyclable

    • if the waste isn’t recyclable, ask how you could reuse it


Food and drink

This can be a tricky one. We know, with so much to organise, simple is best. Here are some ideas of how to swap the common single-use items at an event.























Other ideas:

1.    ask guests to BYO: cup, drink bottle, utensils, plate etc

2.    hire everything – plates, cups, cutlery etc. pick up, use and drop back for someone else to clean up!


It is so fun to decorate when having an event. We get it! Here are some fun and simple ways to decorate your event without adding more waste into the world…

  • collect glass jars, cover them with a piece of coloured scrap paper and find some greenery in the garden to pop in them for table decorations

  • look at op shops and see what second hand goodies you can find

  • ask friends if they have any decorations you can borrow

  • make streamers out of old t shirts or pillow case material

  • paper or fabric bunting (share this around for future events!)

  • collect glass jars and use as candle lanterns with tealight candles

  • bring pot plants from home, or if you have a green thumbed friend… ask them to bring some

  • If you are looking for more ‘statement’ pieces, wooden pallets, empty oil drums (ask your mechanic), truck tubes, bean bags, cushions from home can all be fun things to use for decorations.


Kids party activities

Consider attempting games and activities that do not introduce new or disposable plastics, or games and activities that produce waste. Prizes for games or take home bags can be some of the ways we bring more plastic and disposable items into the world. The $2 shop is not the environment’s friend.

Think about activities you can:

  • create with things you already have at home

  • create with items that would normally be seen as waste

  • borrow from family or friends

  • hire


Some fun ideas we have seen include:

  • dress ups with second hand clothes – hats, glasses and handbags are fun additions which children love

  • egg and spoon races (boiled eggs can be used later as snacks)

  • three legged races with pieces of old fabric for the ties

  • obstacle courses with random items assembled in a space – chairs, tubes, rope etc

  • at a party recently, the family had borrowed a small yellow boat from a friend. They set in up in the garden, full of dress ups. The kids loved it!


Think about ways to celebrate participation without the need to give a gift. If you would like to reward winners, perhaps the prize can be to be served first with the birthday cake.


Waste generated

No matter how hard you try, there will be waste generated in some capacity. So consider ahead of time how you will collect this. If you use multiple bins at home to collect waste, you may like to bring that same method to your event. A breakdown of waste collection bins could be as follows:

1.    soft plastics

2.    compost

3.    glass, cans and other kerbside recyclables

4.    general waste


Consider what size bins you may need for each area, and bring those accordingly. If people are drinking, the glass and cans bin may need to be quite large! Little containers for compost could be close to the food and at waste height. Try and make it cute, with little notes and encouragement in the labelling. Affirmation is good!


Ask for help

Don’t feel like you need to do this alone. Ask those close to you for help, others planning the event with you, or if you are doing it alone, enlist others to help and learn together.


Be ready to learn more and more!

You will learn more and more with each event. In fact, you might already be reading this now remembering a helpful tip you were given, or an easy something you did at your last event. If so, don’t hold it in. Please share with us! We are at our best when we are helping each other and sharing ideas on this journey.


Happy event planning!​

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