A model zero waste community sends nothing to landfills or incinerators; at the same time, continually reducing the volume of recyclables, compostables, and toxic/hazardous materials.  

In practice, Macalester adheres to the widely accepted Zero Waste International Alliance standard, which states that zero waste institutions divert 90% of waste from landfills and incinerators. Event planning is key to creating a zero waste event.

Macalester’s commitment to become a Zero Waste institution by 2020 entails the diversion of waste from the landfill whenever possible.

Please use this guide in hosting a zero waste event – regardless of size – and contribute to Macalester’s Sustainability Goals.

Zero Waste Event Guide

Bon Appétit Catering

Eat Local

As the primary food service provider for the Macalester College campus, Bon Appétit provides catering services for on-campus organizations. Bon Appétit uses either reusable or compostable dishware at all campus events, aiding Macalester’s zero waste initiatives.  The Bon Appétit Catering website can act as an informative resource.

Eat Green

Serve items that are considered Real Food. Real Food are thoe that are organic, local, humane, and fair trade; serving other seasonal and vegegtarian foods can also lower the footprint of your event. Ask the Bon Appétit Catering office for help with menu planning and signage.

Compostable Dishware Program

There is now a convenient and brand new way to get wholesale-priced compostable dishware for pennies per item. This system allows faculty, staff, and student organizations to request necessary quantities of compostables through a simple Google form, regardless of order quantities.

Use the Compostables Wares Order Form to submit your request; an easy way to find the link is via the Business Services tab in 1600grand. Find a link to this form can be found on the Macalester Sustainability website as well as the Business Services tab in 1600grand.

Please submit requests no later than 24 hours in advance. For student organizations, MCSG covers the cost of most orders.

Other Catering tips

  • Tell off-campus caterers you don’t need them to furnish wares; you may get a reduced price as a result–be sure to ask.
  • Favor bulk purchasing and buffet styles events to reduce waste.

Recycling and Composting


Macalester recycles plastics #1,2,4,5,7, paper, cardboard, glass, and metal cans.


Food scraps, all non-recyclable or soiled paper products (napkins, paper towels, tissues, paper plates, cups and food containers, paper milk and juice cartons, paper bags and waxed paper), coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, pizza boxes, and all disposable dishware from Bon Appétit!


Chip bags, condiment wrappers, butter packets, coffee creamers, styrofoam.

Other Recycling and Composting Tips

  • At large events, station trained volunteers or event staff near the bins to educate participants about proper sorting.
  • If you are hosting an event but not reserving a space (such as a departmental gathering or student org meeting), contact Facilities Services to acquire the proper bins.


Include information about zero waste events on the event invitation. Communicating to participants the impact of a zero waste event will encourage appropriate behavior at your events and others.

Reduce the amount of paper your event requires; perhaps by increasing the technology used at your event.


  • Show pride in zero waste. Be proud that the event is waste free! Convey to the attendees the importance of reducing waste, and how it aligns with Macalester’s sustainability goals.
  • Remind participants during introductory and conclusionary remarks at the event, remind event participants that it’s a Zero Waste event and where to locate recptacles.
  • Train event staff in advance of the event on proper sorting of event wares.


Make zero waste visible. One of the most important aspects of a zero waste event is clear signage. Displaying signage informing attendees that the event is zero waste will improve diversion rates and encourage proper sorting.

Facilities Services has a large zero waste event banner that you can use. Email Kyle Wright at  to reserve it.

Use the Macalester Waste Signs Download Center to download and print your own signs for your event.

Macalester Waste Sign Download Center

After the Event

Celebrate and share your success! Consider sharing photos or facts about the success of your event with the participants or larger community.

Adapted from the University of Pennsylvania Zero-Waste Event Guide How-To