Last Friday night friends and I ventured across the lovely Port Hills to partake of Project Lyttelton’s Lyttelton Harbour Festival of Lights Street Party. The main street of Lyttelton was closed off and there were lots of people, yummy food stalls, some great costumes, enterainment and lights too. Project Lyttelton is leading the way in community sustainability initiatives and the Lyttelton Harbour Festival of Lights was no exception (this is a 10 day mid winter festival with lots of entertainment, workshops, walking tours and clothing swap-o-rama-rama with the street party on the Friday night). At key points along the street there were three waste bins: 1 for landfill, 1 for organics and 1 for recycling and at least one person standing behind them helping people to decide what rubbish goes into what bin. At one point I watched a woman go to put a clear plastic cup into the recycling bin but she was told it had to go to landfill. I overhead her discussing this with her partner. Her last comment was “Well, that has to change.” Brilliant – consumer education and inspiration in action. That happened again with a plastic fork a friend went to put in the recycling bin. So, that leads to three key points of interest:
1. Good on Project Lyttelton for having people at the rubbish bins to educate consumers on what can go where. It was obviously working.
2. Do we know enough about the different types of plastics that can be recycled? I assumed that plastic forks and clear plastic cups could be recycled so was curious why people were being told they couldn’t be. Back in the office today I checked the Plastics Identification Code list and plastics forks and “imitation ‘crystal glassware’” is a 6-PS – Polystyrene. As far as we are aware Christchurch City Council kerbside recycling bins can take all numbers from 1 to 7 (except Polystyrene packaging and trays) so why was this not included for the recycling bin at the Festival of Lights?
and finally, the big one
3. Why weren’t all of the vendors selling food using compostable or at least recyclable packaging and cutlery. I saw polystyrene trays, unrecyclable coffee cups, plastic bags, and virgin paper napkins being used.
Apart from thinking all this through during the night it was great to get out and enjoy the winter evening especially the fireworks!
So, if you are planning a zero waste event here are our top tips:
- Get all of your vendors on side. Or only choose vendors that have sustainability policies in place. Make sure that whatever they sell is sold with compostable, biodegradable or in the least recyclable packaging and utensils.
- Better yet ask visitors to your event to bring there own reusable cloth napkins and cups to reduce waste.
- Know how the waste from your event will be processed by your local authority. Work with them to make sure that you have the best system set up to marry with theirs.
- Use the event as a chance to educate like Project Lyttelton did.
- Ensure you have all of the options covered for the waste streams – landfill, recycling and organics. And promote what happens to each of these waste streams after the event.
- Make sure the people doing the eduating know the ins and outs of all of the different waste streams and how they can be handled and then what happens to them afterwards.
- Research what others have done around the world and see if any of their solutions will work for their event.
- Promote sustainable transport like taking the bus (Project Lyttelton do this every year).
- Utilise great greening resources like the MfE’s Major Event Greening Guide or the Christchurch City Council’s Organising a Minimum Waste Event guide.
Thanks to the team at Project Lyttelton for a great night and for helping to move consumers and the Lyttelton (and surrounding) community closer to sustainable living.