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Greening Year-end Banquets and Events

By Larraine Roulston:

As waste management and environmental decisions should be part of any event, organizing committees must include an environmental component and waste free strategy. Those who organize and volunteer for a year-end party before the summer holidays can strive to make the occasion greener.

If the event is large, enlist as many as you can for a 3Rs crew. For a school’s six-hour fun fair, for example, this group swings intobanquet-parris-table-setup-edit1 action with enough parent volunteers to start the day, followed by a second team in the late afternoon. Here is an opportunity to call upon a school’s Eco Club. Ask them to create a 3Rs name for the volunteers and design “cool” armbands. When these students are not involved in a game or activity, they too may want to pitch in and help throughout the day.

The first crew arrives early to set up recycling and organics containers, and to post instructions. During the day they check that the containers are used correctly, replacing them as necessary. A microphone or the school’s PA system could be used, with clever announcements reminding everyone to recycle. The second crew appears later and remains for clean up. Cardboard signs are recycled. Spilled popcorn, sweepings with bits of string, et cetera, are composted. Game objects and decorations are boxed for next year. Carities will receive unsold items and untouched food can be divided or taken to a food bank. Bagged and tagged recyclables are set out properly for pickup. The organics containers are taken home to backyard composters or to municipal green bins. This keen 3Rs crew is as visual as the musicians and wandering clowns.

Everyone involved can promote the event as environmentally sound and waste free.  This action explains the lack of garbage Eco-friendly events bannercans, and the absence of helium balloons, over-packaged candy, straws, bottled water and polystyrene plates, as well as cups and plastic cutlery. For guest speaker gifts, prizes and decorations, source locally made crafts; other choices can be travel mugs, fair trade chocolate, entertainment passes, plants and tree seedlings.

Don’t be shy to ask your public works department to supply, deliver and ultimately pick up recycling and compost containers for the event. Politicians have been concerned about the garbage crisis for over 30 years, and it is time for officials to be called upon for their assistance if needed. What better way to support and educate their voters than with responsible action.

Whether your seasonal wind-up is a sports tournament, a day filled with games and activities, a backyard BBQ, a graduation, or a gala evening banquet – as an organizer, volunteer or participant, you can help make it greener. You will also save money by reducing nonessentials; reusing plates, cutlery and decorations; recycling, composting; and being energy/water efficient.    Happy summer holidays!

Larraine authors the Pee Wee at Castle Compost series that are fun and factual. Visit www.castlecompost.com 

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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