“While we realize children are not in school right now, this information was gathered while kids were at school.  We share it here in hopes that when they do return to school there will be a more sustainable future for the lunch box.”

In the events world, we often talk about wholesale, sweeping changes that will affect 1,000s of attendees. The event manager switching from print material to digital, for instance, will save money, reduce materials, and decrease the environmental footprint of an event. It’s easy to get caught up in this top-down approach, especially as planners. It is, after all, the most effective way to make a big impact on an event. But we sometimes forget about the actions an event can promote at an individual level, that not only impacts the event days, but can create a legacy effect that changes individual attitudes and behaviors long after.

At MeetGreen, we typically work in the world of large-scale changes. We help to change event practices so that those plastic water bottles aren’t available as an option for attendees, or the name badges don’t include plastic sleeves. But we also hear personal anecdotes from people who are walking the walk at home, too. These stories often inspire us, and we’d like to pass that inspiration onto you and get you thinking about the personal decisions you make every day. MeetGreen worked with Tessa to help make her events less wasteful, and she shared this story with us:

The Issue

Tessa’s son, Carter, started kindergarten this year, and as she was planning his lunches she realized that the normal lunch packaging would produce a lot of waste! Being an eco-conscious person, she wanted to avoid that waste, and the cost associated with all of these disposable items. Here is a breakdown of a lunch served with disposable items over 90 days:

Items Used

Product Quantity Material
Ziplock bags 90 Plastic
Juice box 90 Mixed materials
Single use drink bottle 90 Plastic
Fork 90 Plastic
Individual string cheese 90 Plastic Wrap
Individual chips 90 Mixed materials

The Solution

Tessa knew there had to be a better way, so she did some research and found a substitute for each waste item. They not only had to be reusable/rewashable, but something that Carter would be able to use and successfully save. Here was her solution:

Product Quantity Material
Silicone reusable bags 6 Silicone
Stainless steel drink container 2 Steel and plastic
Reusable utensils 5 Plastic

The Results

After 90 days of school, Carter hasn’t lost any of his reusable items! He brings them all home every night and if he does forget something, the bags are distinct with his name written on them. Here are some of the environmental benefits of Tessa and Carter’s choices:

By using a reusable fork 30 times and a reusable water bottle 90 times, they saved:

  • L86.7 lbs CO2e
  • 28 gals of water

If a class of 25 made just these two changes over a 180-day school year, it would save:

  • 4,335 lbs CO2e, equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 32.5 trees grown for 10 years!
  • 1,400 gals of water, equivalent to 17.5 bathtubs full of water!

Kudos to Tessa and Carter for making the effort, and showing how we can all make a positive environmental impact every day!  When the kids get back to school or other activities, we hope you will feel inspired to make changes in your own way, following Tessa and Carter’s leadership.

Side Note about Reusable Service Ware

One of the largest sources of waste we see in the events industry comes from food service ware. The coffee cups, plates, bowls, utensils, and napkins can add up quickly and create a burden for the waste system, and almost always end up in landfill. One of the worries we hear is around loss and the cost of replacing reusable dishware that goes missing. At MeetGreen, we’d like to posit that if kindergartener can keep track of his reusable service ware, so can event attendees : )