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How to green a special event – Pt. 2- “Greening” an Event Venue

written by: Mercedes•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/5/2010

Working in a venue or outdoors, where there are no apparent recycling facilities or receptacles? Fear not--this article will get you started on the basics of recycling in a non-green venue.

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    In the last article, we discussed how to run a “green” special event in an already “green” venue—a location that already has environmental-saving rules and processes in place. However, not all venues are “green,” and outdoor venues are especially sensitive to the messes created by people attending special events. This article will address how to make events staged in places like these as “green” as possible.

    Reducing and Processing Waste

    At the root of the green movement is the desire to reduce waste, so that’s where event planners need to start. Here’s how to proceed:

    1) If you are working in an indoor venue with no recycling program (like a church hall or community center), the first and easiest thing to do is to suggest that venue operators adopt one. Some places don’t have a recycling program because they’ve been around for a long while and don’t know where to start. If they agree to develop one, work with them on the practical aspects of such a program, like acquiring recycling bins and setting up signage.

    2) Of course, not all venues want to adopt environmental programs. If that’s the case with your venue, and you have no other options where to hold your event, then be proactive. Ask for a map of the facility and then proceed to locate where the trash receptacles are located. You are going to need to place at least one additional recycling receptacle next to each existing trash bin.

    3) If you are running an outdoor event in a location without trash bins, then you are going to have to start from scratch. After you get your permits, be sure to ask for maps of your outdoor area. If the maps don’t note the locations of each trash receptacle, you may have to mark the maps yourself.

    4) You are going to need different, easily identifiable bins for food, paper and plastic or metal waste. Some localities want aluminum, plastic and glass in separate containers, and others don’t. Check the rules set by your local municipality.

    5) You can buy or rent trash receptacles to serve your purpose; just check your local yellow pages under “Garbage and Trash.” There are some manufacturers who produce disposable trash receptacles, but word is that they don’t hold up in inclement weather. If your event is annual, or if you hold events often, it’s more cost effective to buy your own stackable bins. Generally, bins with the “Recycle” logos are more expensive. Sure, they are snazzier, but there’s no rule that you can’t label bins yourself to save money—just make sure the labeling is neat and looks professional. Along those same lines, comparison-shop for the best-looking and most useful receptacles at online shops like or

    6) During the event, use clear plastic bags. They are the best reminder to all attendees and your volunteers of what belongs in which receptacle. The last thing you want is for your attendees to have to guess what goes in each bucket. And, at the end, you don’t want volunteers to have to rummage through a dark mystery trash bag to figure out how to sort it.

    7) Set aside a location for the trash that is away from the festivities, but not so far that it becomes a hardship for your volunteers. You can even screen off an area close to the action. Make sure that the space you allocate is large enough to hold the sorted bags. Set up a sorting station for each kind of trash and label it clearly: food and garbage; paper only; plastic only; glass only; aluminum cans only (or plastic/metal/glass only). Separated trash makes for a neater and cleaner pickup.

    8) Speaking of pickup, don’t forget to schedule for it. Don’t know whom to call? Check the yellow pages under “Garbage and Rubbish Removal.” Depending on your location, you might have to drop off some of the waste, so be prepared for that eventuality by having a “designated dropper” for the end of the event.

    9) Wait—was I correct? Did I say the words “designated dropper?” That’s right. That person is going to be one of your volunteers. In the next article, we’ll discuss why volunteers are the backbone of a company’s environmental efforts, and how to recruit and train an environmental team that will be the key to a successful event.

How to Green a "Special Event"

Work in a company that likes to attend and host Special Events? Does your company aspire to go "green"? This series will help you "green an event whether you're a "greenhorn" or an "old hand" at Special Events planning.
  1. How to Plan and Host a Green Special Event
  2. How to green a special event – Pt. 2- “Greening” an Event Venue