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Keeping Your Event Out of the Landfill

A little planning goes a long way towards keeping your event out of the landfill.

By Clare Innes

With festivals, parties, and outdoor gatherings starting to fill your calendar, follow these simple steps to keep as much material from your event as possible out of the landfill – and keep your event in compliance with the law.

Take control of your event’s waste stream. Require that your staff or vendors use truly recyclable and compostable or – better still – reusable serving and promotional items.

Don’t let the waste go to the landfill. Photo by Katie Chan

Be sure that you are using materials that can actually be recycled or composted. There are many products that manufacturers claim to be recyclable or compostable but are not, due to misleading labeling or because they simply can’t be handled in local composting facilities. In Chittenden County, Vermont, check the recyclable and compostable food-service item list at the Chittenden Solid Waste District’s (CSWD) Green Mountain Compost website (, or contact Green Mountain Compost at or 802-660-4949. In other areas, contact your local facility.

If you’re managing disposal yourself, you’ll find out quickly that trash costs money to dispose of, no matter how you handle it, while proper disposal of recyclables and ‘compostables’ is free if you haul it yourself to CSWD facilities. Again, check with your local facilities in other areas.

Best use of recycling, composting, and trash collection containers:

  • Determine how many containers you need. A good average is at least one set of recycling-composting-trash containers for every 25 people. If there will be lots of food and giveaways, you may want to provide more three-container sets, including some for vendors and kitchen staff.  We strongly suggest that you use blue containers for recycling, green containers for compost-ables, and black or gray for trash. Always properly label containers. For consistency, please use signs available at You can borrow what you need for free from CSWD if your event is in Chittenden County.
  • Determine best bin placement. Create “sort stations” by positioning all three containers side by side. Studies show that when recycling, composting, and trash containers are not side by side, attendees stop using them properly. Hot tip: NEVER have solitary collection container. People will throw whatever they’re carrying into the nearest collection container if you don’t offer all options in the same place.
  • Monitor use of bins. Assign someone to monitor the containers to help people understand what to put where, and to empty them when full.
  • Use clear bags for recyclables to ensure that recycling, compostables, and trash aren’t mingled with each other when you’re aggregating the bags. For compostables, only certified compostable bio-plastic bags are accepted for composting.

Clare Innes is the Marketing Coordinator, Chittenden Solid Waste District. E-mail:, Hotline: 872-8111.

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