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From work socials and birthday bashes to weddings and festivals, planning any sort of event can be a tricky but rewarding task. No matter how well you plan, there are always difficulties involved, whether it’s scheduling conflicts, unexpected costs, or adverse weather conditions. Another is ensuring that these events are as eco-friendly as possible, with society increasingly focused on how to do right by the planet.
Events can leave behind a plethora of excess waste, which can contribute to an enormous environmental footprint. Sustainability is at the forefront of our mission at Bywaters, by providing businesses with many different recycling services. As such, we’d love to let you in on our five tips for planning an eco-friendly event to help you avoid such an outcome.
1. Plastic? Not invited
Plastic is a massive problem for the environment, which is why the dreaded p-word is at the top of our list. While the material is multipurpose and useful, its overproduction and poor disposal have damaging effects on the planet. For instance, plastic balloons often end up in our oceans and waterways where marine animals can ingest them. Single-use plastics are the worst culprits, as they can take over 400 years to decompose.
In terms of alternatives, you could consider using more eco-friendly decorations, such as recycled FSC-approved paper for pom poms, posters, and paper chains. Many companies are selling sustainable decor, or you could have a go at making your own to add a memorable and personal touch to your event. Plastic-free invitations are also a good idea, either by using recycled, glitter-free cards or by sending paperless invites online.
For any plastic that is used, Bywaters can recycle it through our cutting-edge, twelve-step segregation system. Plastics that can’t be recycled are sent for energy recovery at an Energy from Waste facility, then fed back into the National Grid.
2. Embrace charity shop treasures
To be truly sustainable, arguably the most crucial step is prevention: minimising consumption and enjoying what we (or others) already have. You may have heard of the three r’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) and reduction is at the top of our priorities. Last year, we saved 213,884kg of Co2 with our partner Reyooz, a company that rehomes unwanted furniture — take a look if you need to furnish your event.
Why not consider second-hand utensils and dishes from your local charity shop? You could also borrow party necessities from friends and family, who will undoubtedly support your quest to go green (just don’t forget to invite them!) If this isn’t possible, then try to opt for the more sustainable options that use renewable, lower carbon, recycled, or reclaimed materials.
3. Cheers to cruelty-free feasts
We recommend offering your guests plant-based meals and locally sourced, in-season produce. Though some of your guests may prefer meat, livestock rearing and meat consumption is one of the primary causes of climate change, deforestation and soil degradation.
If it isn’t possible to provide an entirely plant-based menu, consider going organic. This isn’t a meaningless marketing tactic: with strict farming certifications, animals can’t be pumped full of growth hormones or fed animal by-products, and must have significant time outdoors.
4. Love your leftovers
Speaking of food, the UK wastes a lot of it. More than one-third of food here is thrown in the bin every day, and when buried in landfills it produces methane, a greenhouse gas which damages the Earth’s fragile atmospheric layers.
Having leftovers after an event is typical, but you can compost leftover meals or encourage your guests to take home what they fancy. Freezing your leftovers is also a great option. Finally, consider taking good-quality leftovers to a food bank or a local charity, or a person in need. You may know an elderly or isolated person who could benefit from the conversation and a slice of cake.
If in doubt, Bywaters offers expert service in all areas of food recycling, from waste bins to collection services, keeping your leftovers far away from landfills.
5. Eco-friendly fizz
Whether opting for ‘bring your own booze,’ or an extensive cocktail menu, finding vegan beverages isn’t always an easy task. Though lots of spirits are animal-free, wines and beers often aren’t. Common hidden ingredients used in the production process include isinglass (dried fish bladders), gelatin-casein (milk protein), and albumen (dried egg white or blood). Fortunately, many brands of hard alcohol are vegan, but avoid cream-based cocktails if you follow a plant-based diet.
For both alcohol and soft drinks, glass bottles are an eco-friendly option and are 100% recyclable. They can be recycled perpetually without losing their quality and make a good addition to any event’s bar or tabletop. Bywaters can collect and sort all colours and grades (including glass bottles and jars) with our glass recycling service.
All in all, celebrations don’t need to produce a large amount of waste. Instead, opt for simple and achievable changes. Bywaters are on hand to help with recycling any materials leftover following your event. To find out more about what we can offer you, get in touch with us at your earliest convenience.