If you’ve ever hosted an event, you know the aftermath can include a disheartening amount of waste. For someone who cares about the environment, this can be a dark cloud over an exciting day or night of celebration. Portland event experts at Ecotrust share low-waste tips they’ve learned from over 20 years of hosting thousands of eco-friendly events. While following these tips won’t get you all the way to zero waste, they’ll get you close. As a bonus, you can purchase carbon offsets to fully neutralize your impact. Here are their five easy steps to make sure your event has the biggest impact on the people who attend and the lowest impact on the environment.
1. Opt for Decorations You Can Reuse or Donate
Not only do disposable decorations create waste, they can make an event feel cheap. High-quality decorations can be used repeatedly over the years, while more specialized decor can be donated for the next inspired party planner to find. Try to find an alternative to balloons. Even the non-plastic options are contentious, so consider plants, edibles, tissue paper pom poms, or banners instead.
Giving gift bags? Opt for tins, mason jars, or cotton bags that your guests can reuse and try to fill them with useful items or with edible treats.
2. Have Volunteers or Staff Monitor Waste Stations
Having compost and recycling is only as good as your ability to keep trash out. Trash in our recycling has become a crisis in Portland. Volunteers can help make sure all waste goes in its appropriate bin.
3. Rent or Buy Your Tableware
Single-use tableware (plates, napkins, silverware, drinkware, and tablecloths) are the culprits of significant event waste. To address this, many well-meaning events have turned to compostables, but food waste is the only compost being accepted from businesses and commercial buildings in Portland. Not to mention, people report food tasting better when it’s served with heavier plates and cutlery. If you have to use disposables, look to upstream versus downstream solutions by using disposables with a high percentage post-consumer recycled content.
4. Find a Sustainable Caterer
Oregon is a wonderful state for finding local, sustainable, delicious food. However, some caterers still rise to the top. Here’s a list of caterers that Ecotrust loves for their commitment to sustainability, local sourcing, responsible food waste management, and positive work environments for their employees.
5. Choose an Environmentally Sound Venue
While you can make a big difference in reducing the impact of your event through the choices you make, it is also important to choose a venue that makes it easy for you to go green. Look for renewable energy and on-site composting and recycling. Try to book a venue that is near to accommodations, is accessible via public transportation, and has good and safe bike parking options. Close the loop on waste and food scarcity by working with a venue that donates leftover prepared food to a gleaning organization like Urban Gleaners.
Opened on January 1, 2018, Ecotrust’s newest venue, the Redd on Salmon Street is not only built using the highest standards of sustainability, it also makes hosting an eco-event easy. The Redd, which can welcome up to 3,000 people in its flexible indoor/outdoor spaces, provides plates, silverware, and drinkware for any event to use for free, as well as a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen to bring the regionally sourced meal of your dreams to life. Not only does the Redd ensure your event’s low environmental impact, it is also part of a two-block working campus that provides the infrastructure to enable a farm-to-table network that creates jobs and restores lands and waters.
On March 2, join Ecotrust live and in person to see the Redd campus, revealed. The Redd Reveal! is a grand opening celebration that treats the eyes, ears and taste buds. Explore newly renovated, historic spaces; delicious regional bites and beverages; and top-notch, family-friendly entertainment during this open-house-style event hosted by Ecotrust.
Cooking demos, including butchery with Po’Shines Cafe de la Soul and Cason’s Meats and a blind-tasting veggie bingo with The Sideyard Farm and Kitchen, are complimented with family-friend entertainment, including Rojo the Llama and kids’ silent disco. Party-goers will enjoy generous food and drink served throughout the new space’s expansive main hall and outdoor plaza while DJs and a live band keep the beat. Hourly tours during the event offer an insider’s view into the campus designed to foster a more regenerative, equitable, and delicious regional food system.
Drop in for a quick taste or enjoy the full day of festivities!