Low-waste tips for public events! ’Tis the season for winter markets and craft fairs. Unfortunately, these sorts of public events also typically means single-use plastic. If you stop to take a moment and look at all the vendors, it’s really amazing to realize how many single-use products are used. It’s not just shopping bags: paper cups for drinks, tiny plastic containers for samples, straws, napkins, plates, cutlery…the list goes on and on.
I want to a Christmas market the other day and it was so fun! I managed to avoid a lot of single-use waste, and although things weren’t perfect, I was pretty darn happy. Here are my top tips.
- Bring your reusables. Simple enough! This can include a travel mug (for hot drinks), open cup (for cold drinks), water bottle, napkin, plate, straw, cutlery, chopsticks, and bags.
- Get your friends and family on board. Send them a little text beforehand to encourage them to bring their own reusables. You can also ask if they’d like you to bring some extras (and then bring extras if you can, regardless of what they say, just in case!).
- Remember that it’s not only about plastic. Sure, a paper napkin is biodegradable, but it still uses resources. Better to bring a cloth napkin from home.
- Know that compostable is not perfect. There may be vendors proudly displaying their bioplastic options. They likely have the best intentions, but so-called compostable plastic has a lot of problems. It typically needs very specific conditions in order to biodegrade properly (it likely won’t break down in oceans, regular soil, or landfills). The general public doesn’t typically have access to the industrial composters required. Plus, as noted previously, it’s still uses resources!
- Respect the rules, but try to get creative. Some cities do not allow reusables to be used in certain scenarios, due to health codes. Is there a way you can get creative? For example, do they have “for here” options, or can a beverage be transferred from a glass that they have, and then into your own container?
- Dispose of things properly. Look around—are there compost options and recycling bins? If no, you may want to hold onto your waste until you can dispose of it properly.
- Talk to others. If someone is eyeing your cloth napkin and cutlery, engage them in conversation. You may be inspiring people without even knowing it!
- Don’t sweat it! Things may not go perfectly according to plan. No problem! Just do your best and enjoy your day out.