Zero Waste Event Volunteer Guide

A Zero Waste Event is any one-time program, occasion, or event that diverts the waste generated by at least 90%. This is accomplished by minimizing, composting and recycling most of the waste from the event.


Why zero waste?

Zero Waste Events minimize the waste generated by at least 90%. This greatly reduces the amount of landfill waste consumed at Ohio State. Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves natural resources, and reduces pollution. Composting creates a useful product that can be used again. Furthermore, Zero Waste Events encourage attendees to think about the consequences of their actions. Hopefully, Zero Waste Events will contribute to a growing culture of sustainability at Ohio State.


What is my role as a Volunteer?

  1. Without volunteers like you, Zero Waste Events would not be successful.
  2. As a volunteer, you are responsible for educating event participants in placing their items in the correct bin. As they approach you with their disposables, you will be responsible for helping them dispose of the items correctly.
  3. If participants place items in the wrong bin, remove contaminated items from bin and place them in proper bin. Contamination can potentially disqualify the event from gaining zero waste credentials. 
  4. Engage participants. Talk to them about the zero waste concept. Educate them about what the Zero Waste Event is accomplishing.
  5. When there is down time, take a look around and dispose of any waste left around.
  6. Take note of what items are being placed in the wrong bin, and ask announcers to clarify which waste streams are appropriate for those specific items in the next announcement.


Event Planning

Event planners have devoted thought and time to minimizing the waste that will be produced at the event. A few ways that the waste may be minimized include:

  1. Utilizing products with minimal packaging, utilizing reusable and durable items, and utilizing compostable and recyclable only products.
  2. Choosing a caterer that is able to handle Zero Waste Events and serving the appropriate food portions to avoid food waste.
  3. Utilizing electronic tools for promotion, information, and registration instead of print materials.

Further ways that a Zero Waste Event may attempt to reduce its environmental impact include: 

  • providing food that contains locally-sourced ingredients 
  • hosting the event in a space with natural light
  • encouraging attendees to use bicycles or public transit to get to the event


What goes where?


  • Food
  • Napkins/paper towels
  • Paper-based products
  • Compostable plates, forks


  • Plastic bottles
  • Aluminum cans or foil
  • Glass bottles
  • Office paper & newspaper


  • Mixed-content materials
  • Candy & plastic wrappers
  • Anything else that is not compostable or recyclable


Thank you for being a Zero Waste volunteer. Without your help, accomplishing zero waste would not be possible! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to speak with your event coordinator.