Zero Waste Event Guide

Use these tips to hold events with minimal waste!

Marketing and Communications

Minimize print materials—Use email and web resources in lieu of paper materials to promote the event and during the event if possible. Avoid printing dates- create and laminate signs and flyers that can be used again for future events. Use online advertising and social media to promote your event and eliminate print waste. Email fliers and post them on social media instead of printing them.

Event Decorations

Select reusable or recyclable signage and table covers. Minimize items such as disposables and balloons.

Equipment and Energy Usage

Choose local vendors or Dining Services to minimize transportation costs and carbon emissions. Use natural light during the day if possible (e.g., hold the event outside or in an atrium). Borrow a solar speaker from the sustainability office and connect to your cell phone!

Waste and Recycling

Provide the appropriate number of garbage, recycling, and compost bins for your event. Compost if you can.

Small to Medium Sized Events – Contact Rocky Mountain Composting to rent some compost bins and arrange for RMC pick up your compost. Another option is to call Alpine to see if you can drop off the compost. You will need to purchase compostable bags and transport the bags in a tote by truck.

Large Events – For large events (500 to 5,000 people) contact Eco-cycle ZWE to provide staff and bins for the event. Eco-cycle currently provides composting services for the following large Mines events: E-Days, I-Days, Summer Family BBQs. Eco-cycle needs a minimum of 1 month notice for large events. They can provide you with a quote for bins and services, including planning.

Food and Beverages and Serviceware

Ask attendees to RSVP to avoid over-ordering food and ask caterer to lower portion sizes to reduce food waste. Consider asking guests to bring Tupperware to take home extra food.

Service ware – Use as few disposable things as possible: Choose reusable plates, utensils, cups and packaging whenever possible. Alternatively, avoid plates and utensils altogether by choosing finger foods. If reusables are not an option, choose recyclable or compostable containers or minimally packaged goods instead.

Green Your Food – Use locally grown seasonal produce, organ­ically grown foods, Fair Trade foods or beverages, vegetarian/vegan options. Ensure that condiments, sauces, spreads, chips, and other items are served in bulk to avoid unnecessary waste from individual wrapping and choose food platters over individually-packaged boxed meals.

Beverages – Provide a water station with fillable water pitchers and reusable mugs in lieu of individual bottles of water. Have a post-event plan for composting or donating usable leftovers.


Encourage attendees to carpool, take the shuttle or use alternate transportation to get to campus. Consider public transportation schedules and peak travel times when scheduling the start and end times for your event. There are also travel carbon offset sites such TerraPass Events calculator and Myclimate event calculator.


Provide useful or eco-friendly products as promotional products or giveaways such as reusable bags, BPA-free reusable water bottles, reusable utensil sets, lunch kits that can be used at the event to take extra food, etc. Purchase from local, handmade, plastic-free, or otherwise “green” vendors.