Low Waste Events

Lincoln Log Building with caption  Low Waste - What Does It Mean?

  1.   Plan activities that create little or no waste
  2.   Use reusable items, such as dishes and linens
  3.   Favor durable, long lasting; avoid trinkets
  4.   Use bulk containers; avoid single serving packets and containers
  5.   Avoid excessive quantities of food; plan for handling leftovers
  6.  Use recyclable and compostable items

Before the Event or Gathering

Work with organizers to identify areas where you can reduce or eliminate waste.
Recruit volunteers to help with waste stations, set up and clean up.
Train volunteers on what to recycle and compost - training available through the Town.


Publicize your event as low waste.
Use electronic media and electronic invitations, registration.
Use flyers sparingly; place only in high traffic locations.
Design signs that are timeless so that they can be reused at your next event.

Decorations and Handouts

Avoid mass distribution of printed agendas and handouts.
Print double-sided.
Avoid lamination (since it cannot be recycled) unless you plan to use the publication for a long period of time.
Use decorations that can be reused. Most plastic decorations CANNOT be recycled.
Replace balloons with bubbles, paper lanterns or streamers, cloth banners, flags or floating flowers. Birds, turtles and other animals commonly mistake released balloons for food. In place of water balloons use wet sponges.
Rethink giveaways; avoid disposable trinket that can quickly become trash.


Determine all food and serving products you will need.
Seek caterers that use local, seasonal and organic food.
Forecast the head count to avoid wasted food by using RSVPs or registration.
Arrange how to handle leftover food and include caterers in the conversation.
Tell the caterer that you do not want any single-serve packets - they are not recyclable or compostable.
Use washable, durable dinnerware, pitchers, cups, flatware and linens.
Discuss dinnerware options with the caterer or food vendor(s). Reusable dinnerware is the best option, but if impractical, then use compostable items.
Check in with food vendors/caterer a few weeks before the event.

Location and Custodial Service

If the event is not catered, do you have access to a dishwasher that will allow reusable dinnerware?
Check the waste containers at the venue to decide what you need for recycling and composting containers. Recycle and compost containers should always be placed next to the waste containers.
Provide clear signage to post on or above containers. Taping actual objects to the signs and containers can be very helpful.
Find out the protocol for cleaning up after the event. All municipal buildings have exterior trash and recycle containers. The public schools and transfer station have compost systems.
Determine who will be responsible for composting at the end of the event.

During the Event or Gathering

Check-in with food vendors/caterer. Provide them with signage for the table or booth.
Staff the waste stations to ensure that recycle and compost are properly sorted.
Make an announcement about event composting/recycling.

Waste Station

Resources Available

Folding trash, compost and recycle containers and bags
Recycle/compost/trash canopies
Banners for waste stations
Signage for food vendors
Step by step guidance from the Recycling Coordinator
A presentation to your organization

To borrow materials and receive training, contact the Mansfield Recycling Coordinator, 860-429-3333, waltonvd@mansfieldct.org.

Contact the Eastern Highland Health District, 860-429-3325, for guidance on how to incorporate safe food handling into a low waste event.

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