Zero Waste Events

In the Presidio Trust (a national park where I interned for a year and a half) my supervisor suggested I draft sustainability and waste reduction guidelines for our Events department. At the time, no one had asked us for these policies. Yet we often worked with them around waste management given that we were the Waste Reduction Department. Their existing policy was ineffective and not enforced. Part of the problem was the format. The ‘policy’ was what appeared to be bullet-pointed rants against those who waste, not official (or approachable) policy.

Undeterred, I set to work on creating a new set of policies, keeping in mind my event planning experience from various organizations and my job as a Resident Advisor at University of California, San Diego. Soon I had a document that was a short book no one would take the time to read, digest, or apply the guidelines. After many edits and suggestions from coworkers, I condensed it down to one-page of expectations for before, during, and after an event. This guide was followed up by a two-page lookbook for visual learners and a checklist that mirrored the expectations to check compliance.

As we were finalizing the new policy, our Events department called us to ask for assistance in updating their sustainability policy. We could not believe the timing but jumped on the chance to work with them. We were overjoyed at how they whole heartedly accepted the new zero waste policy.

I was then asked to present the new guidelines at a meeting with the ‘Preferred Caterers’ of the Presidio event venues (a crowd of about 80 professionals).

Later on, I was also able to present to a smaller group of Event Venue Assistants on the policy. These folks, along with the Event Coordinators, are now working to implement the new practices.