How to Keep a Low Waste Lifestyle in Mind this Summer!

Since it’s summer, kids are out of school and lots of picnics, BBQ’s, and other events will be happening around the city! We compiled some helpful tips for attending these events while being mindful of your waste! Hosting an event? Check out this blog post about hosting a low waste event.

Why Low Waste?

Being mindful of how much waste you are generating is beneficial to our waste stream. If you are using items that can not be recycled then those items are being sent to a landfill where they will be buried and unrecoverable. If you are using items that can be recycled the those items can be sent through the recycling process and can be made into other products! This reduces the amount of waste that is being sent to our landfills and creates a circular economy. Low waste events are happening all around us, and if the event you are attending isn’t being labeled as one, you can still keep low waste in mind!

Research the Event

It is helpful to know these things about the event you’re attending:

  1. Will there be food and/or drinks?
    • If so, you have a few options:
      • If they are going to be served using single use disposables –> avoid those and bring your own reusable dishes instead!
      • If they are going to be served using reusable/washable dishes then you’re good to go! Maybe ask the host if they need help cleaning up after the event.
    • If not, make sure to bring a snack and a reusable bottle filled with water or hydrating liquids!
  2. Will there be recycling or composting at this event?
    • If so, know where those receptacles are at the event, and encourage others to use them too! If you notice contamination, encourage the host to have better signage or to make an announcement to guests.
    • If not, then those at the event will either have to throw away all items and food, some of which could have been recycled or even composted. Tip: taking items home to recycle or compost them is an option too!

Why should you avoid plastic, Styrofoam and paper towels?

Plastic and Styrofoam are the most generated waste at parties, so try to skip the plastic and Styrofoam when possible. This could mean using the reusable dishes you already have at home, or going to a thrift store to purchase unique second hand items for low prices! You can also encourage the host to keep this in mind while they’re planning the party. You could even offer to bring reusable plates if you have them!

Offer to the host to purchase a nice fabric table cloth rather than a flimsy plastic one and it will last them years of parties to come. A budget friendly option would be to use brown paper as the tablecloth. It can be decorated by labeling the food or drink options. After the party, if it’s free of foods and liquids, the brown paper can be recycled in the Blue Bin!

Paper towels and napkins are a no-brainer for most at events. But did you know that they are not recyclable because their fibers are too small to be recovered during the recycling process. Choosing cloth towels is the most eco-friendly choice because they can be washed and reused. Pro tip: are you a guest? Bring your own set of reusable utensils with a cloth napkin.

Stay Hydrated!

Parties, BBQ’s and bonfires aren’t complete without beverages of course! Bringing a refillable cup for water, soda or other beverages is a great low waste swap to make. Most alcoholic beverages come in aluminum cans or glass bottles. It is important to recycle glass and aluminum because they are endlessly recyclable, which means they can be recycled time and time again without losing much of their chemical properties. Make sure you know where the recycling bin is located at the event you are attending! If there doesn’t seem to be one, consider bringing your recyclables home or to wherever the nearest Blue Bin is located. You can even offer to collect all the recyclables!

What is Precycling?

Precycling is when you consider the recyclability of a product before purchasing. In other words, it is Rethinking! By considering the packaging of a material before purchasing it, you are reducing your waste by not making the waste in the first place! Read our blog on precycling to learn more about how you can change your purchasing habits.

Want to Enact Change?

So you attended your event and you noticed that there was a lack of recyclable and compostable options, or there were no recycling or compost bins. If you noticed something you think that the person, organization or company that hosted the event could change, you should let them know!

See if there is a feedback survey for the event, or if it was a family gathering just send your family member a kind message of consideration. Remember to offer your help! Taking this extra step to give feedback can go a long way! With the feedback they receive they’ll know that at least one person that attended their event wants to see more low waste options and mindfulness at their next event.

Hosting an Event?

Check out our blog post about hosting a low waste event.

Questions?

Please reach out to us through email at Recycle@StLouis-MO.gov or by phone at 314-772-4646.
We are open Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm. Our office is at 4646 Shenandoah Ave. St. Louis, MO 63110.

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