People clinking glasses before having dinner

Contact Zero Waste

Here are nine ways to make your event more zero waste.

Choose reusable foodware.

Replace disposable utensils, plates and cups with reusable alternatives.

Provide zero waste sorting stations.

Set up a sorting station, with instructional signs, to collect single-stream recycling, compost and trash. Three-part stations encourage recycling and composting, and reduce contamination.

Remember: only food scraps and plants belong in your curbside compost bin. So, compost those sandwich scraps and watermelon rinds, but please put paper plates, cups and napkins in the trash.

Foldable zero waste stations can be rented from Eco-Cycle.

Avoid bottled water. 

Instead of reaching for a pack of single-use bottled water, choose reusable cups and water pitchers, or ask guests to bring their own water bottles.

If drinking water is not available at your event location, consider buying gallon jugs of water instead of individual bottles.

The life cycle of bottled water, from creation to disposal, supports the oil industry, releases greenhouse gases and pollutes our planet. Bottled water is also much more costly than tap – often 3,000% more expensive per gallon.

Pitcher of water with lemon

Serve beverages in durable pitchers instead of single-use plastic bottles.

Trade plastic wrap for wax paper or foil.

If sandwiches, burritos or desserts must be wrapped, ask caterers to use aluminum foil or paper wrap. Better yet, ask for multiple items to be served together on reusable, covered platters.

Clean aluminum foil can be recycled if formed into a large ball at least two inches in diameter.

Say no to polystyrene foam.

Cups and food containers made from polystyrene foam, commonly called Styrofoam™, cannot be recycled in Boulder’s single-stream recycling. Polystyrene often enters waterways because it falls apart easily, which leads to the creation of tiny plastic fragments that poison people and wildlife.

Polystyrene foam food container

Avoid polystyrene foam food containers and cups whenever possible.

Will your food be delivered in polystyrene foam boxes? If so, ask for substitutes, like foil wrap or reusable platters.

Swap single-use packets for reusable containers.

Ask caterers for ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise in bowls or jars instead of single-use squeeze packets, or purchase your own condiments. Likewise, supply your own sugar, salt and pepper in shakers.

Reusable condiment containers

Use reusable condiment containers.

Skip single-use creamers by serving milk in pitchers or recyclable cartons. Make sure to dump out any remaining liquids, rinse the inside of the carton, and replace the cap before putting milk or juice cartons in the recycling bin.

Dress the table with reusable covers or skip table covers altogether.

Cloth table covers can be washed and reused. Plastic and compostable covers must be trashed.

Table set with tablecloth

Choose reusable tablecloths.

Give away long-lasting party favors.

If you choose to have party favors, avoid cheap items that could be trashed by the end of the month. Try one of these ideas instead:

  • Hold a prize drawing for fewer but better-quality items.

  • Offer experiences like movie tickets, recreation passes or gift cards.

  • Give out poker chips or marbles representing a sum of money, and ask guests to drop them into jars representing local non-profits. This supports good work, promotes discussion and builds community.

Not sure which bin waste belongs in?

The Sorting After Party


Food scraps collected at your event should be added to your curbside compost bin or brought to Eco-Cycle's Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM) for a $3 facility fee.


All single-stream recycling should be added to your curbside recycling bin or brought to the Boulder County Recycling Center.

If you collect recycling in a paper or plastic bag, make sure to separate the contents from the bag before adding them to your single-stream recycling bin. Paper bags can be recycled or composted separately, while plastic bags cannot go into single stream recycling. Paper bags covered with grease or food should be composted.

Bring plastic bags to Eco-Cycle's CHaRM or a grocery store for recycling, or put them in the trash.

Learn About Circularity