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girls putting garbabe in waste cans

It takes a bit of pre-planning, a dash of knowledge, and a stirring of cooperation from your event guests, but once you do a Zero Waste Event, you will wonder why all events at Clark aren’t trying to ‘go Zero’!

girl recycling banannaSustainable Clark’s and the Environmental Action Council have created these easy-to-follow Zero Waste Event Guidelines and more detailed Zero Waste Event Guidelines that clearly explain the 5 Steps to Zero Waste Events, provide a product selection guide to take your event greener, and include a handy list of what goes in recycling and compost bins.

Download Quick Zero Waste Event Guidelines

Download Detailed Guideline

Steps for Success

  • Think about the materials and products you plan to use at your event
    • How much waste do they produce? How can you make sure it’s only recycling or compost?
    • That’s the Zero Waste goal!
    • Pro Tip: check the Landfill list a few pages in and AVOID any of those items
  • Assign  “trash talkers” to inform about your Zero Waste event before, during and after. They can help people understand what goes where, and why.
  • Work with Clark Dining Services to make sure they will take your bags of compostables. The only place on campus we can compost as of January 2020 is through Clark Dining Services, and you will have to bring i to them in Higgins Cafeteria.
  • What are you going to do with leftover food? Donate it? Share with others? Know this ahead of time and plan for it.

If catering, reach out to local businesses before ordering to discuss Zero Waste food transport & storage options and ask them to use compostable, recyclable, or reusable containers If purchasing, make sure all packaging is recyclable or compostable If serving food, save $$ and go Zero by borrowing Shareware from the Clark Sustainability Collaboration – email:

Educate event staff about Zero Waste and ‘What Goes Where‘

recycling binsCreate a Zero Waste station (or two) at your event by labeling containers with signs that say Compost / Recycling.  Or you can use whatever you’ve got, even a box with a sign works!

Make sure you and your event staff know what goes where and are ready to help others.

What goes in COMPOST?

  • Food and food scraps
  • Paper plates, paper cups, coffee cups
  • Napkins & paper towels
  • Coffee grounds & tea bags
  • Wood stirrers
  • Sugar packets, paper tea packets
  • Liquids, sauces, condiments
  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Waxed paper

What goes in RECYCLING?

Everything made of plastic, metal or glass

  • Cans, Bottles
  • Plastic cups
  • Jars
  • Plastic silverware
  • Aluminum foil
  • Foil pans and foil liners
  • Plastic containers / lids / caps
  • All hard plastics #1- #7

What goes in PAPER?

Any CLEAN & DRY paper items without food or liquid remains:

  • Newspaper
  • Copy paper, handouts
  • Notebook paper
  • Magazines
  • Posters
  • Crepe paper streamers
  • Cardboard

What goes in LANDFILL?


  • Styrofoam plates, cups and containers​
  • Chip bags​
  • Candy wrappers​, granola bar wrappers
  • Plastic shopping bags​
  • Plastic wrappers​
  • Thin plastic liners​ like in boxes
  • Saran wrap​
  • Plastic film​
  • Inform participants that this will be a Zero Waste event in your invites & posts
  • It’s OK to ask them to BYO plates, cups & silverware, or borrow the Shareware from CSC
  • Place a sign at the entrance of the event saying ‘Welcome to a Zero Waste Event’ • Make an announcement about where stuff goes before the event starts and ask if people have questions – people get excited about going Zero
  • Your ‘trash talkers’ can remind participants during the event and even stand by the Zero Waste stations to help out


  • Provided that you have pre-approval, bring all the bags of compost to Clark Dining Services in the University Center
  • Bring your bags of recycling to the University Center concourse and put them in the recycling station
  • If you borrowed any of the recycle bins from other rooms in the UC, make sure to put them back

Well done!

  • Count how many bags are filled with compost and how many recycling! Those bags are reason to celebrate!
  • Count how much landfill was produced during the event, with all your planning and following Steps 1 – 5 there should
    not be any
  • Share your successful Zero Waste event results with members and attendees and in posts – good news!

zero waste crew - girls smiling

Contact Information

Sustainable Clark

Mailing Address:
  • Clark University
    950 Main Street
    Worcester, MA 01610
  • Office Location:
    Facilities Management (Gates House)
    501 Park Avenue
Contact Us: