5 Ways to Stay Zero Waste at the President’s Picnic

President's Picnic Prep


We don’t know about you, but we’re getting pretty excited about the President Monaco’s annual summer celebrations! Each year after Commencement, the President’s Office hosts a picnic/ice cream social for staff, faculty, and students on each of the Tufts campuses.  As part of Tufts’ ongoing commitment to sustainability, the event on the Medford campus will be zero waste again this year. Efforts will also be made to reduce waste at the Boston and Grafton events.

Whether you are attending the event on the Boston, Grafton, or Medford campus, you can reduce your waste by planning ahead! We recommend that you BYOP – Bring Your Own (reusable) Placesetting (plate/bowl, utensils, etc.).  If you BYOP to any of the events, you’ll have the chance to win a prize from the Office of Sustainability.


What to bring:

Being zero waste can be stylish, affordable, and fun.

  1. Mason jar or reusable water bottle – use the Mason jar as a glass to carry your drink (or ice cream if you’re on the Boston Campus). The mason jar lid will prevent spillage, which is an added bonus
  2. Reusable bag – carry your zero waste supplies with ease
  3. Plate/Bowl – a reusable plate/bowl is sure to be sturdier than a disposable one
  4. Cloth napkin – instead of using a paper napkin, bring something that you can use over and over. Cloth is sturdier and can absorb more than paper.
  5. Utensils – a bamboo utensil set is a great thing to keep on hand if you’re looking to carry something lightweight, but you can always grab a silverware set from the office kitchen!
Why it’s important to reduce your waste:

First and foremost — there is no away. Any time you throw something into a trash can, it is sent to a waste-to-energy incinerator or the landfill, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose. This excellent infographic by the non-profit organization 5 Gyres shows the rate of decomposition for various types of plastic.  For example, a plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to decompose.


Image Credit: 5 Gyres

Plastic gets downgraded each time it is recycled. What does this mean? Unlike glass or metal, plastic cannot be recycled into the same product. For example, if you put a plastic water bottle into the recycling it’s likely to come back as a plastic bag, which eventually becomes trash. Recycling essentially delays the amount of time it takes for plastic to inevitably end up in the landfill.

The more plastic you can avoid using, the better. Only 5-10% of the plastic we recycle is actually recovered meaning that even if you recycle plastic, it is likely that it will be sent to the waste-to-energy incinerator or landfill. Although waste-to-energy incinerators reduce the volume of waste sent to the landfill, they release pollutants into the air and the ash from the process is eventually sent to the landfill anyway.

Reducing and reusing saves energy, reduces GHG emissions, and prevents pollution generated by harvesting new materials. Here is a list of reasons to reuse from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

  • Prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials
  • Saves energy
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
  • Helps sustain the environment for future generations
  • Saves money
  • Reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators
  • Allows products to be used to their fullest extent

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, view this TED talk by Lauren Singer, explaining why she lives a zero waste lifestyle and can fit 3 years worth of trash in a single mason jar.

Want more resources for making campus more sustainable or encouraging colleagues to live green? Check out our Green Office Certification checklist for a list of simple changes you can make in the office to reduce your environmental impact or view our Green Events Guide to learn how to green your upcoming event.

greenevent     GOCheck

1 Comment

  1. You said it right – the more waste we throw away, the less healthy our environment is! It is really important to start thinking about tomorrow, not just for the present day! Because our waste management is not working properly and sooner or later, if we don’t do something, it will collapse and our children will have to pay for our carelessness. And it is so easy to join the zero waste movement – just shop with reusable bag or drink from reusable bottle, etc!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *