Don't let public events go to waste
OPINION: When people are planning events like school galas, weddings or large scale public events, the disposal of the waste that inevitably will be generated often slips under the radar.
After all the action is over, faced with bins of messy food scraps, soggy paper, plastic cups, plates, forks and drink cans, most people shake their heads and toss it all into rubbish bins that go to the landfill.
Awareness, though, is definitely growing, along with public expectations, and more public events are succeeding in tackling waste by embedding a zero-waste strategy into the planning stages.
Providing recycling facilities and requesting stallholders to ditch the plastic plates, cups and cutlery, which can't be recycled when soiled with food scraps, is the best way to achieve this.
Compostable food containers made from corn or potato starch and wooden cutlery are easily available these days, and can be recycled along with the food scraps.
Clifton Terrace and Tahunanui schools have both embraced the zero-waste concept at their school fundraisers and have welcomed the opportunity to extend the no-waste message they teach their students to include whanau and the wider community.
At the recent Race Unity Day in Victory Square, recycling stations were manned and stallholders were required to serve food in compostable containers.
A new record was reached: three cubic metres of food scraps together with compostable plates and cups, equivalent to about twelve supermarket trolleys full, were diverted to compost.
In comparison, only 0.5 cubic metres of rubbish ended up being sent to landfill.
Carlo Wiegand, part of the council-funded zero-waste Arts Festival crew of three who manned the recycling stations, said: "We were very pleased to have achieved this new record. Although it was a bit of a battle to get all the stallholders pulling in the same direction, especially given that most of them were small, ethnic community food stalls and not commercial operators, we did it and it was well worth it. People thanked us and appreciated our efforts".
Opera in the Park, The Masked Parade, Buskers and recently Cider Fest, are all examples of events that aim to be zero-waste.
Luminate Festival caters for a specific clientele, one that is perhaps more sensitive to the need to step as lightly as possible on the planet; the festival has chosen a different approach and requires participants to be responsible for their own waste, with a pack-in, pack out policy for waste.
This approach has been very successful and hopefully indicates the way of the future as young people are educated about the need to avoid waste altogether.
If you are planning an event, ECOLAND, the new home of Nelson Environment Centre, has stocks of compostable plates, bowls, wooden cutlery, serviettes and more.
For smaller-scale events, e.g. parties, weddings, etc., ECOLAND has over a hundred 120 white plates and cups, bowls etc. to hire out for a modest fee.
To find out more, contact: ECOLAND, 31 Vanguard Street, Nelson. Ph: 03 545 9176
Fifty Shades of Green is a column contributed by the Nelson Environment Centre.