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Working to create a more sustainable campus

Zero Waste Event Guidelines

What is a zero waste event?

A zero waste event is an event where there has been a conscientious effort to reduce the total amount of waste created and where 90% of the waste that is created is either a recycled or composted.

Start with the basics:​

  1. R E D U C E :​ Wherever possible, reduce your purchases for the event. I​f it’s not necessary, don’t buy it.​
  2. R E U S E :​ This is more sustainable than recycling and it’s easier if you work with others to share materials. Check with the community if they have supplies you are looking for!
  3. C O M P O S T :​ Buy compostable or biodegradable when you cannot reuse! *The Office of Sustainability can subsidize costs.
  4. R E C Y C L E :​ Purchase recyclable if you must use non-reusable, non-compostable wares.

Email s​ ​for more information!


★ Education

  • Inform visitors that they are entering a zero waste event! Post this information on any spam and/or other distributed information!
  • If people are made aware of the event’s intents beforehand, they are more likely to be conscientious when headed to the trash bin and bring reusable items.

★ Catering

  • Refer to our listing of sustainable restaurant and catering options on page four
  • Make sure to ask your caterer to serve food from reusable dishware (either you or they
  • can provide); otherwise, ask if they have or can use recyclable dishware.
  • Remind them to a​void​ use of styrofoam, plastic utensils, plastic coated paper products, and individual packaging.

★ Wares

  • Use reusable tablecloths, water dispensers, and wares as possible.
  • Wellesley is phasing out single-use water bottles! Instead, use water dispensers and other reusable items from the Office of Sustainability.
  • Wells on Wheels for outdoor events can be booked on 25Live and smaller 3 gallon table-top dispensers can be reserved through the Office of Sustainability or College Government
  • Otherwise, use compostable wares. Compostable plates, cups, and utensils can all be found from WB Mason and other vendors.
  • Note: A​LL ​wares should be made compostable, otherwise contamination by non-compostable items is likely.

★ Bins

  • Reach out to the Office of Sustainability to obtain compost bins, signage, volunteers, and other supplies! And to coordinate pick-up of waste.


  • Put out signage.​ T​aping actual objects to the bins is VERY helpful.
  • Cluster. M​ake sure that all bins (recycle, compost, trash) are together for convenience.
  • Double check the caterer.​ C​heck for any non-compostable materials brought by the caterer by mistake.
  • V o l u n t e e r s . ​S​taff the waste station to ensure that compost and recycling are not contaminated. *The Office of Sustainability can provide additional help!
  • Train... t​he custodians, servers, bartenders, and volunteers so they know how to help!
  • Announce. M​ake a brief announcement that this is a zero waste event and what that means.

Email s​ for more information!

If you’re not sure– trash it!

Where does the compost go?

The Composting Process

Composting FAQs

What CAN be composted?

a. ALL food waste (including grains, breads, meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, tea bags, and coffee grinds) b. napkins & paper towels
c. compostable plates, bowls, cups, and utensils
d. wooden coffee stirrers
e. tea bags (staples are ok) and coffee grinds
f. the green compostable bags that line the compost bins

What CANNOT be composted?

a. plastics (Recycle!)
b. metal (Recycle!)
c. coffee lids (Recycle!)
d. sugar packets (these are lined with plastic coating)
e. plastic ketchup or similar dressing and sauce packets
f. styrofoam cups
g. plastic bags
h. foil or plastic bags that individually wrapped tea bags come in

Compost is picked up by EOMS and delivered to WeCare Environmental in Marlborough, MA–unlike a backyard compost, they are able to break down meat and compostable plastics.

What makes the containers compostable?

These products (including plates, cups, & utensils) are derived from plants and will biodegrade in the proper environment.

  • Plates and bowls are usually made from bagasse, a sugarcane waste product • Cups are usually made from corn plastic
  • Utensils are usually made from potato starch

Note—m​any compostable cups look EXACTLY like other plastic cups that are not biodegradable, so it is important to check the bottom of the cup or know what cups were purchased for the event to make sure it says “PLA” or “compostable” before composting them.

Email s​ for more information!