• Tips from We Don’t Waste: Reducing Waste at Meetings & Events

     
    POSTED March 4, 2022
     
    Photo credit: We Don't Waste
  • Tips from We Don’t Waste: Reducing Waste at Meetings & Events

     
    POSTED March 4, 2022
     
    Photo credit: We Don't Waste
  • Tips from We Don’t Waste: Reducing Waste at Meetings & Events

     
    POSTED March 4, 2022
     
    Photo credit: We Don't Waste

While attending the 22nd annual Meetings Industry Council (MIC) of Colorado Educational Conference & Trade Show at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on March 1 – 2, I was reminded about the important work We Don’t Waste has been doing across the Denver metro region for more than a decade. 

Noticing how much good food was going to waste, founder Arlan Preblud decided to take it upon himself to start delivering the excess to local food banks in 2009. By 2017, We Don’t Waste had four refrigerated trucks, moved into an 11,750-square-foot food recovery and distribution center, and operated with the help of staff and volunteers. 

Five years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Preblud when writing an event profile for Colorado Meetings + Eventsabout the organization’s Dumpster Dinner fund-raiser, where chefs made all the cuisine from food that would have otherwise been thrown away. It was a creative event idea and a pleasure to learn more about what inspired his creation of what has become one of the largest food recovery organizations in Colorado. 

Currently, We Don’t Waste has approximately 165 active food donors (restaurants, venues, caterers, distributors, producers and institutions) who are helping keep quality, unused/unopened food out of the landfill and going to people instead. As a result, We Don’t Waste serves more than 100 hunger-relief organizations (plus another 220 through partner distribution), ranging from soup kitchens to school food pantries, shelters and food banks.

At the MIC Conference, one of the breakout sessions was “12 Years of Saving Food - We Don’t Waste & Centerplate: Building Environmentally Responsible Partnerships.” Matthew Karm from We Don’t Waste and Kayley Boyle, executive chef of Centerplate Catering (the exclusive caterer for Colorado Convention Center), talked about how to attract clients and partners and become a sustainable force in the meetings and events world. 

Since Earth Month is coming up in April, it’s the perfect opportunity to share tips these We Don't Waste tips for reducing waste at meetings and events using these tips. 

Set Goals & Market Them

  • Set zero-waste goals and include them in the marketing of the event.
  • Consider including a designated sustainability role when budgeting for event or establishing an event taskforce.

Engage Staff & Event Participants

  • Distribute food-saving products/tools (reusable cutlery, branded containers).
  • Use visuals to highlight how much food is being consumed at a given event vs. wasted.
  • Consider partnering with a relevant business/nonprofit/B Corp (e.g., food recovery, composting, sustainable event management).
  • Consider implementing a “donation” (fine) system. For every no-show guest, a charge will be made, and the proceeds directed to a partner nonprofit, B Corp or environmental offset (such as planting trees).

Implement Practices

  • Consider plated food instead of a buffet to reduce waste.
  • Use smaller plates when there is a buffet to encourage guests to take less food.
  • Clearly mark bins (consider making signs more accessible depending on audience).
  • Use compostable physical materials (e.g., plates, cutlery, silverware).
  • Have a designated “drop off” zone for food/beverages that can be safely re-distributed.
  • Vocalize where recycled materials/compost is being directed and its impact.

The 2021/2022 ski season has not only brought some big storms early on, the opening of new and refreshed mountain town lodging properties also has welcomed winter. Copper Mountain is among the few, if not the only ski resort in Colorado, to welcome a new hotel and Element 29 is its first and only hotel. 

 

Larger communities host citywides, while mountain resorts are more about “villagewides.” Taking this concept to heart, Beaver Creek has introduced a new collaborative website to help meeting planners envision multi-venue and multi-hotel meetings and events for groups of 150 to 1,500 guests at the Colorado ski resort and to submit RFPs. 

 

Colorado’s Meeting and Events Incentive Program was introduced to assist in the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As an added bonus, it also will help groups get back into the practice of meeting face-to-face. Here’s a brief overview to help determine if your gathering might qualify.

How Does It Work?