zero-waste bbq Reducing

Throwing a Zero-Waste BBQ Event

Guest Blogger

Let’s be real: hosting backyard BBQs in Northeast Ohio is a summer essential, but they create lots of trash. Many choose to use single-use plates, utensils and cups, creating a large amount of non-recyclable waste. However, there are some simple steps you can take to create a (nearly) zero-waste BBQ summer event!

Let guests know this is a zero-waste event in advance.

Ask guests to bring their own reusable cups or mugs, rather than having single-use plastic ones. Contrary to popular belief, red party cups (and all the other colors) aren’t recyclable! Once the party starts, make a quick announcement to remind people to be mindful of their waste and recycle accordingly.

Avoid pre-packaged foods.

When purchasing food, aim to buy in bulk so you can avoid single-use plastic containers. Some foods, including fresh fruit, come in organic packaging that can be composted after your zero-waste BBQ!

Use reusable products and utensils.

Serve food and snacks on reusable plates, and use beeswax wrap or reusable silicone lids instead of plastic wrap. Rather than using single-use plastic and paper products, reduce your trash by choosing reusable plates and utensils. Clean up is quick when you  pop them in the dishwasher afterwards!

Create signage so guests know how to dispose of different items.

When people are confused about waste disposal, they often just throw everything in the trash (or the recycling). Clarify what goes in the recycling bins at your zero-waste BBQ by printing out signage, which can be found below, or make your own! Find some great options for signs at Recycle Across America or Clean River.

Serve drinks in large dispensers.

Avoid bottled beverages by serving drinks in large drink dispensers. These are more pleasing to the eye too! Guests can easily fill up the cups they brought from home here.

Send leftover food home with guests.

Rather than throwing away untouched food, send it home with guests in jars you have lying around your home or ask guests to bring their own containers to your zero-waste BBQ. Everyone loves free food!

Don’t fret if it’s not perfect!

Throwing a perfectly zero-waste event is tough. Learn from your mistakes, figure out what works for you and make improvements for next time.

By following these steps, you can greatly reduce your BBQ’s landfill contribution. This is also a great opportunity to casually educate friends and family on the importance of recycling!

If you are planning a larger-scale zero-waste event, be sure to check out more details about zero waste goals and this Zero and Reduced Waste Event Planning Guide.

About the Author

Hailey Mylett is an intern at the Solid Waste District for the summer of 2019. She is a senior at UCLA studying Environmental Science.