Towards Zero Waste

Local First Arizona was proud to host BALLE conference attendees in Phoenix in June of this year. The conference brings together people that are working to grow local economies across the country. As the host city, we were tasked with making this a Towards Zero Waste event, meaning that we implement ways to reduce the amount of trash that ended up in Phoenix landfills. According to EPA studies, one person creates an average of 4.4 pounds of waste per day, so a three day event with 500 attendees generates about 6,600 pounds of trash. Here are some of our successes with reducing the impact of this event. Reduce:

  • We omitted plastic water bottles at Ambassadorsthe event. Instead we set up water stations using igloo coolers and compostable cups. Many conference attendees brought their own water bottles as well. We were able to easily bring igloo coolers on the busses we used for our conference tours. The amazing Phoenix Ambassadors set up oasis stations with igloos along the conference route.
  • We posted signs at the water stations asking attendees to take one cup and reuse it.
  • We asked all our bartenders to reduce the use of cocktail napkins, straws and drink stirrers when applicable.

Foam core signsReuse:

  • Visit Phoenix provided reusable water bottles for conference attendees.
  • We opted for china dishes and silverware over disposable plates and plasticware to be used at breakfast and lunch service.
  • Foam core signs that were used to direct people were dropped off at the Art Resource Center in Tempe. Educators and artists reuse the foam core board to create new projects.
  • Leftover food from Fair Trade Cafe was donated to a local church which distributed it to over twenty people in need.

Recycle:Crescent compost

  • We recycled paper, plastic, cardboard, metal and glass. Many of the venues we held events in already had recycling in place. For those that didn’t, we partnered with City of Phoenix to bring in dumpsters.
  • We composted 1,320 pounds of organic matter with Recycled City. They delivered large bins which we collected food waste, paper products and compostable cups.

GridCarbon emissions: We reduced carbon emissions by creating a conference that was easily navigated by foot, bicycle or public transportation. Conference attendees arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport were instructed on how to use the Sky Train and Light Rail to get downtown. Attendees were educated about Grid Bike Share and encouraged to use the bicycles to navigate the conference. Arizona Pedal Cabs pedaled people to their desired locations throughout the three days.

We were excited to see staff at the locations we held events at embrace our sustainability efforts including the Orpheum Theatre, the Phoenix Street Food Coalition, Fair Trade Café, Arizona State University, AE England Building, Renaissance Hotel and Crescent Ballroom. Even more exciting to see was that many of these venues already had recycling and composting systems in place, taking it upon themselves to implement sustainability initiatives in their workplace.

If you are interested in learning more about incorporating sustainability initiatives in your workplace or event, contact [email protected]. We love to hear success stories too!