Ocean Hero Events: How To Say No to Single-Use Plastics

Say no to single use plastic. Motivational phrase. Plastic garbage bag, bottle, cutlery in the ocean graphic design. Vector illustration in doodle style. Protect ocean concept

So, you want to put on a single-use plastic free event?

First of all: Congrats! By being here, you are already part of the effort to make our world a better place- so thank you! 

If you’ve never put on an event like this, you must be wondering how to accomplish such a feat? Well, the good news is others have done this very same task and succeeded! Some inspiration and examples of zero-waste events include: 

Jack Johnson with his reusable steel cup (Photo: Brandise Daneswich @antimodel)

Below are FOUR MAJOR STEPS that YOU can use to put on a successful and fun event that is free of single-use plastic:

1. Use reusable serviceware (plates, cups, utensils, etc.)

  • This will save you money in the long run, and greatly lowers the impact of your event on the environment.

So.. you want to use reusables, but you can’t afford to stock up and buy everything you need?

2. Use compostable paper or bamboo-based materials. Try to stay away from the so-called ‘compostable’ bioplastic materials. Turns out, a lot of those items don’t degrade properly in a landfill, or if they get loose into the environment. So best to avoid them completely. Similarly, avoid single-use recyclable aluminum materials, these are actually worse for the environment than single-use plastic! (Upstream 2021 Report)

3. Skip the plastic decorations and party favors (plastic table covers, balloons, and plastic-wrapped treats). 

  • Instead opt for cloth tablecloths, paper-based decorations, sustainably sourced flowers or potted plants, and seeds (flowers or trees) for party favors. 

4. Source the food and beverages from places that minimize plastic packaging. If you and your friends are preparing all of the food yourself- then opt for buying produce that is not pre-wrapped in plastic (if you have that option). Remember- bagging your produce in a plastic produce bag before you reach the check-out line is unnecessary – Just give it a good wash when you get home.

Farm Fresh Vegetables, Free of Plastic Packaging!
  • Steer clear of individually wrapped, “snack size” items like juice boxes, chip bags or cookies. Always buy in bulk!
  • Instead of providing water bottles at your event, provide filtered water at bottle refill stations. 
  • Provide ice-stations if it is a hot day (and provide tongs so people can help themselves while remaining sanitary)
  • Provide beer, wine, juice, soda, coffee and/or sparkling water on-tap to fill up all those reusable cups that people have at your event (*glass cups are often not allowed for permitted events!). 
Tap Trucks with full beverage services provided by ‘Tap Truck’ in San Diego https://taptrucksd.com/pages/packages

We hope this is helpful- and stay tuned for more tips!

By WasteZeroOceanHero

We are SD Zero, the winning team of the 2021 Scripps-Rady Ocean Plastic Challenge. Our team members include: Julie Hopper (USC Postdoctoral Fellow- science educator, researcher and data analyst), Lauren Hackney (MBA Candidate at UCSD Rady School of Management), Kristina Phipps (Contract Policy Analyst and Attorney at The Nature Conservancy), Tanya Torres (California Sea Grant Extension Fellow working with NOAA’s Marine Debris Program) and Jake Reynolds (The Behavioural Insights Team. Energy, Environment & Sustainability Policy, UK). Please follow our blog to follow our progress on this initiative, as well as plenty of zero-waste tips to help organizations and individuals host and implement events free from single-use plastic!

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