100 percent fun and zero waste

It’s block party season. For Mt. Lebanon residents, that means food, fun and great company. That also can mean a big mess the next day, with garbage bags full of greasy paper plates, wet Solo cups, pieces of Silly String and soiled paper tablecloths. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When organizing your block’s party, consider following in the steps of residents of Vernon Drive, Martha Avenue and Parkridge Lane, who threw a zero-waste block party. Says Alyssa Jones, Vernon Drive, who helped organize the party: “The zero waste part went phenomenally well. We really didn’t want to stress ourselves out, make that too much of an issue with the block party. We didn’t want to make it difficult for people.”

Partygoers used reusable plates, cups and cutlery to minimize waste. At the party, they created stations for recycling, composting and placing used plates, cups and cutlery, so they could be washed later.

The event taught children about the importance of the environment. “The kids really enjoyed it. They really got into it, helped, and understood the protocol, which is just such a great thing to see,” Jones says.

After the party, there was only one bag of trash to be thrown out. “I don’t like the way it feels at the end of a party, if there is a lot of trash to haul out. I think it feels really good to have a successful party and to look around and realize that we aren’t creating a negative impact,” Jones says.

Mt. Lebanon’s Environmental Sustainability Board Member Kathy Hrabovsky Orchard Drive, explains how trash creates a series of problems: “Disposing of waste in a landfill destroys our land resources, creates contaminated runoff into streams and rivers, polluting our water resources, and generates methane (a powerful greenhouse gas), destroying our ozone layer.”

Composting is a better alternative than throwning out trash better because it creates an organic, reusable product and diverts waste from the landfill, Hrabovsky says.

If you’re interested in renting compost stations, recycle bins or durable goods, you can contact Pennsylvania Resource Council (PRC). “The events are a great platform to educate people and gather people together on environmental issues,” says Teresa Bradley, the zero waste services coordinator at PRC.”

Reach PRC at 412-488-7490 or email infowest@prc.org. Other resources:

www.lebogreen.org—a website run by the Mt. Lebanon Environmental Team. They have a recycling guide specific to Mt. Lebanon and specific tips on how to throw a zero-waste block party.

myzerowaste.com—This website focuses on zero-waste in the home.

Photo by George Mendel