Parties, backyard cookouts, road trips, excursions to parks, outdoor events, company picnics and family reunions. Our summers are filled with fun that includes lots of food, beverages and celebration. 

Unfortunately, large gatherings can create more trash and waste in our homes and our communities. These event recycling tips will help you keep it cleaner and greener with ease by helping you reduce waste at the source.

Party and Event Planning Tips

Your pre-party planning should include a recycling strategy. Plan ahead, get creative and you?ll be a top-notch host. You might just set a good example for the hosts of the next gathering, too.

  • Welcome your guests with an announcement that toasts the event, with a reminder to recycle while they celebrate. At larger and workplace events, post cheerful signs with sustainability goals.
  • Know what can and can't be included in recycling collection. Plastic clamshells, plastic utensils and napkins all belong in the trash. See which items belong in the recycling collection bin.
  • Make recycling easy for everyone in attendance by placing recycling bins near the trash. Clearly (and perhaps creatively) label recycling bins with signs that are clearly visible. Using both words and pictures is a good idea.
  • Choose reusable party plates, utensils and cups instead of buying single-use disposable plastic ones that can?t be recycled. If you need more than you have on hand, you can usually buy them very inexpensively at thrift, discount and secondhand shops. After your party, just put them in the dishwasher ? instead of sending them off to the landfill ? and store them in a box until your next event. Learn more about reduclng plastic waste.
  • Consider a decorative or event-themed reusable cup as a fun party favor (and have a marker available so each guest can write their name on their cup). These are often used for years ? instead of hours. Or, invite your guests to bring their own reusable cup or travel mug to the event.
  • Serve beverages from large containers and dispensers instead of purchasing single bottles or cans of water and soda.
  • If you must use single-use items, opt for fiber-based or compostable cups, plates and utensils.
  • If you have untouched leftover food, send individual portions home with guests in reusable containers. Leftover food may even be donated to local hunger centers if it meets certain requirements. These requirements can be found on our food donation page.
  • If you compost at home, don?t forget to compost leftover fruits, vegetables and grains (never meat or dairy products!) in your backyard composter. In addition, Rust Belt Riders will transport food waste for a fee.
  • If your guests brought side dishes to your party, send them home with their containers. If you take a dish to a party, take your container home with you (but offer to leave any yummy leftovers with your hosts).
  • When opting for a professional caterer, choose one that has environmentally sustainable practices including providing recycling receptacles and washable (versus disposable) plates, cups and utensils.
  • Weddings can be environmentally responsible events, too, and a list of tips and resources can be found online at sites like
  • For larger get-togethers and company events, get more great tips from Zero Waste Northeast Ohio?s Event Guide. It?s free! See the PDF.