Events and Cocktail Catering - Lowering Impact
Bartenders who cater events and event producers know just how wasteful they can be. There tend to be a lot of disposable items including glassware and napkins, leftover cocktails and garnishes may be thrown out at the end of the event, and there is just an awful lot more waste.
In this section, we talk about either hosting events (such as cocktail conferences or parties) vs cocktail catering. The real difference is whether or not one is the host or the caterer.
- Rent glassware from a catering company rather than use plastic. Note that many companies use shrink-wrap plastic around rented glassware in any case.
- Enforce a compostable cup-only policy.
- Maureen Hautaniemi of 86 Waste writes that after six months they were still unable to get proper sample-sized reusable glassware and had to resort to compostable plastic.
- Straws and Swag
- Require that straws are paper/compostable if used at all.
- Prohibit exhibitors/caterers from giving out disposable plastic items such as swizzle sticks or straws.
- A blog post on smart signage for waste vs recycling at events from 86 Waste.
- Speaking of signage, foam core posters and signs are not recyclable and can create much waste. When creating or planning for signage, consider using recyclable cardboard or other more environmentally-friendly backing, or renting digital screens for signage.
- Especially at cocktail conferences, water is crucially important to have available for attendees. Bottled water creates tons of plastic or glass waste, so refillable water jugs/stations are better way to go.
- Maureen Hautaniemi of 86 Waste writes that in order to run an effective water station program, they let attendees know in advance of the Thirst Boston conference that they could bring their own water bottles, and reminded attendees at the start of each classroom session that water was available just outside the room.
- Recycling and Composting
- Events create a lot of trash. If the event location doesn't offer recycling or composting, you can arrange for a pick-up and/or rent the containers to hold recycling and composting.
- If you're using compostable cups/plates, ensure the recycling signage reflects in which bin to dispose of them. In many cases compostable cups cannot be put into the compost bin (only certain municipalities can handle them) must be placed in the trash or recycling.
- If making drinks for which the garnish is a citrus peel with no need for the citrus (such as orange peels for Old Fashioneds), rather than peeling then discarding the citrus, consider using an atomizer with food-grade citrus oil instead of citrus peel.
- To minimize wasted liquids, see what you can batch on-site rather than in advance. You may still need to juice in advance but at least you might save some alcohol by batching on-site.
- To minimize wasted garnish, consider doing the same; cutting peels to order for the later part of the event to prevent waste.
- Bring only compostable items such as compostable cups and straws.
- Provide straws and/or napkins only upon request.
- If you may have leftover batched cocktails at the end of the event, make an arrangement with a bar to take them for a late-night special. The bar may be able to sell them as a special. (This may not be legal in your jurisdiction.)
- Plan in advance by making citrus stocks to thin out the fresh citrus. Save spent citrus for the week before the event and/or ask a local bar to save their citrus husks for you to do this.