Last fall, we wrote about the recycling trailer available from Keep Knoxville Beautiful. Gay Lyons, who plans and executes multiple events, lauded the service. But what about smaller gatherings? Lyons wrote a guest blog entry for EventCheck Knox to encourage recycling at those events, too, and offered expert tips to get it done.
The recycling trailer, Knox County’s first mobile recycling unit, provides everything you need to make recycling easy at large events. For example, they provide 35 clear-stream wire recycling containers and 120 clear recycling bags.
This kind of turnkey service isn’t feasible for small events, but that shouldn’t stop you from going green at those smaller parties.
From the start, you can reduce the amount of trash or recycling by choosing reusable plates, cups and glasses, utensils and linens, whenever possible. If you don’t use plastic cups and paper napkins, you don’t have to worry about where they go at the end of the party – you just reload everything into the crates they were delivered in and toss the linens into a bag.
If you must use disposables, look for items that are recyclable or biodegradable. There are lots of ecofriendly options these days. Think bamboo!
At home we have our separate bins for trash and recycling, and everyone in the household sorts accordingly, but that system doesn’t necessarily work well at events.
If you’re hosting an Earth Day party, you’re hosting the cognoscenti, but for most parties, your guests may be well-intentioned but not well-informed – or just not paying attention.
If you set out some bins labeled TRASH and some bins labeled RECYCLABLES, what you are likely to end up with is a messy, mixed-up mishmash of trash and recycling that no one wants to sort through after the event ends.
It turns out partygoers don’t make the best recyclers, so it’s best to take it out of their hands and go behind the scenes.
If you are using professional servers, ask them in advance what you can do to make the recycling process easy for them. Let your bartenders know that you’d like empty bottles and cans boxed up as they accumulate.
If you’re working with volunteers, appoint someone to be in charge of a trash and recycling team and then provide the team with a sorting table, gloves and bags or boxes close to the action but discreetly out of sight.
Find out whether the event venue will take care of trash and recyclables for you. If anything needs to be hauled to another location, be sure someone is assigned that task in advance so that there are no icky last-minute surprises.
A little planning and coordination will go a long way towards throwing a party that will linger in guests’ memories – not in the landfill.
Currently the director of marketing and development at Positively Living, Gay Lyons has chaired event planning committees for Knox Heritage, Leadership Knoxville, Knoxville Museum of Art and the Dogwood Arts Festival and has helped plan events to benefit the Tennessee Theatre, Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, Ijams Nature Center and Volunteer Ministry Center. When not attending or planning parties, she cooks, reads and writes – pretty much in that order and sometimes simultaneously.