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Zero Waste Success Stories

How a CONGREGATION'S COFFEE HOUR does it...

Cedars Unitarian Church holds their service and coffee hour in a school gymnasium. Their Green Sanctuary Committee supervises a bucket collection system next to the food spread using these guidelines:
1. Make disposal VERY simple.
2. Arrange buckets in order of how people dispose of stuff. Silverware collection goes last so it can be used for scraping.
3. Label each bucket with posters above it or with a stick and sign. Use pictures or samples and very few words. 
4. Put a sample of what goes in each bucket on the sign above the bucket and at eye level, not stomach level.

How a RETAIL DESSERT SHOP did it...

Sunshine Yogurt served up its smoothies and frozen yogurt with compostable bowls, cups, utensils, lids and straws. For the many customers who ate in, there was a container at the exit explicitly labeled "Compostable - No Trash," and a list of what could be deposited within. This receptacle was emptied daily into one of the two yard waste toters that Sunshine contracted with the local waste hauler, Bainbridge Disposal.

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How a NONPROFIT does it...

When Friends of the Farms asked Zero Waste for guidance on having as landfill-free a fundraising dinner as possible, little did anyone imagine that the trash output would practically all fit into the bag you see in the upper left-hand corner. A big reason for their success: centralized ordering. Jeff at Blackbird Bakery ordered the compostable dishes, cutlery and cups for all of the participating restaurants. Because all the dishware was compostable, except for the shot glasses, disposal was an easy affair for guests - just toss it all into the compostables toter. Two of these 96-gallon containers got filled to the brim. An equal-sized recycling receptacle was also jam-packed with wine bottles, paper tablecloths and nongreasy pizza boxes. Because the shells of the oysters served would be too dense to break down at the commercial compost facility, they were instead returned to Puget Sound to become barnacle housing.

Aside from making sure vendors use materials that can be composted (items that hold food) or recycled, the most important aspect of a waste-free event is having monitors at the recycling/compostables/landfill waste station to prevent items from going in the wrong containers. Friends of the Farms was able to find these volunteers by making the request in an email to their supporters. Nice job all around!

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How a SCHOOL CLASSROOM does it...

Who doesn't love a good party? Now the elementary students at Rebecca Rockefeller's daughter's school like them even more because their leftovers will go to feed the chickens, who, alas, will not end up laying cupcake-flavored eggs. Visit her blog for great pictures and the basics of how to throw a low-waste classroom party.

If you know of a classroom or school that would like a waste audit, contact . For a do-it-yourself guide, complete with video, go here.

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How a SPORTS GROUP does it...

How do you a throw a party for 200 kids and adults and make NO trash whatsoever?  Read on to find out…

Julie Riely and Dawn Snider were determined to make their end-of-year tennis tournament gathering as low-waste an event as possible. As a result, EVERYTHING went into the compost toter or recycling bin, was taken home and washed, or was repurposed.

Keys to success:
1. Plan well. Find out what is being served so the appropriate tableware can be acquired (durables are best). Good planning = good outcome.
2. Communicate with your end users: Dawn announced to the captive audience at the start of the event that the party was aiming for zero waste, and she explained what went into each of the designated containers.

Durables: glasses for water

Compostables: paper plates (not polycoated), paper napkins, pizza boxes

Recyclables: soda cans, juice in plastic bottles (liquids emptied out first, tops screwed back on), two plastic containers for water

Reusable: pizza boxes (garden weed blockers), pizza center rings (creative toys for kids)

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