How to Achieve a Zero Waste Party

July 25, 2018 Environment
Zero Waste Party

Zero Waste Party - Picnic in the Park

We live in a small village with a great community spirit and recently we were organising a village Picnic in the Park, we have a wonderful recreation ground. We wanted to try and make it a Zero Waste Party.

As well as people bringing along their own picnics we were also providing BBQ chicken, homemade pizzas and beer and wine.

The easiest solution to cut down on waste was to ask people to bring their own crockery and cutlery but we knew we’d still have to provide some.

I started researching the best eco friendly disposable glasses and plates and the “environmentally friendly plastics seemed to fall into three categories:

  • Bioplastics made from natural materials such as corn starch
  • Biodegradable plastics made from traditional petrochemicals, which are engineered to break down more quickly
  • Eco/recycled plastics, which are simply plastics made from recycled plastic materials rather than raw petrochemicals.

The best solution seemed to be to buy the glasses and plates made from Bioplastics. These products are marketed as being compostable which I thought would be perfect for a Zero Waste Party.
However, after a bit more research I discovered it wasn’t quite that simple, read on to find out why.

What are Bio Plastics

The theory behind bioplastics is simple: if we could make plastics from kinder chemicals to start with, they’d break down more quickly and easily when we got rid of them. The most familiar bioplastics are made from natural materials such as corn starch.

This sounded perfect but when I did a bit more research I found that most of them could only be composted in Industrial scale composters and there are very few of these in the UK. I checked with our local Council and they didn’t have any facilities to deal with this.

Even worse, if they do go to landfill they are unlikely to break down just like the plastics I was trying to avoid.

However, I did discover that I could “Hot Compost” the products to break them down. But what on the face of it had seemed like a perfect solution wasn’t quite as straight forward as the marketing blurb had made out.

How did we achieve a Zero waste Party?

So, with a little bit of research and a bit a planning and a little bit of extra effort I think we did pretty well on achieving our aim of having a Zero waste Party.

These are the main ways we achieved it:

1. Asking people to bring their own reusable crockery, glasses & cutlery
2. Recycled napkins
3. Bioplastic glasses – we collected them up separately to “Hot Compost”
4. Palm Leaf Plates – these are made from fallen palm leaves and can be easily composted at home. Bought from Little Cherry who has a great supply of eco friendly party supplies.
5. A large barrel of beer from the local brewery
6. Vintage fabric bunting
7. Wooden cutlery from Little Cherry
8. Hay bales for seating – a friend had some last season hay bales that were a bit too dusty for horse feed but made great seating
9. Large pitchers of water and juice for the kids
10. No plastic straws, we had a few paper ones for the kids if they wanted them

It was a great village party with around 130 people having fun playing rounders, wanging wellies and eating and drinking on a wonderful summer’s day.

At the end of it we only had one small bin bag of rubbish that couldn’t be recycled or composted so I was very happy that we had achieved our aim of a Zero waste party.

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