As co-presidents of Eureka Recycling, a social enterprise dedicated to demonstrating that waste is preventable—not inevitable—Kate Davenport and Lynn Hoffman want to help planners think beyond recycling bins and compost collection.
MNM+E: Eureka already processes nearly 100,000 tons of recy- clables each year and offers event consultation, zero waste education and more. Are there specific goals you hope to accomplish as co-presidents?
LH: We’re always working to be the best demonstration of recycling toward zero waste as possible, and we want to leverage that expe- rience and data to advocate for policy change that could make it easier to participate in a zero waste world. Right now, living a zero waste lifestyle can require a lot of privilege and time. The things that may be cheapest or most accessible may be the worst for us and our environment and we want to move that needle. Recycling is great, but reduction is better.
KD: We’re also working to make sure Eureka’s demonstrations in best practices are available to a wider group of stakeholders so that we can influence systems change.
MNM+E: What’s next for Eureka and its services?
KD: We’ve started to move away from that day-of event service piece. We’ve provided day-of services at everything from ice cream socials to major concerts like Rock the Garden, but we’re moving toward consultation with event planners to help them plan more sustainably. There are new service providers that can help with that day-of piece, so we can step into that role of helping event planners more directly through the planning process. We’ll be launching an online tool kit to help planners incorporate zero waste strategies in early 2020.
MNM+E: Where do you see room for improvement when it comes to planning sustainable events?
LH: We see event reports stating the number of tons of food com- posted and the variety of recycling options used and it’s great, but the goal is to get planners thinking more about reduction and
asking questions like, “How can we be creative about bringing reus- ables into our event space?” or “How can we plan differently for less food waste?” Zero waste isn’t just about discarding correctly, it’s also about mitigating that overall impact.
KD: Zero waste is also about much more than the day of the event.
It’s about how you plan your event—it can’t be an afterthought. LH: And there are plenty of kudos to collect for doing that work in the planning process. If you’re measuring and capturing key sustainable stats from your event, that’s an amazing story for your organization to tell and a great marketing opportunity to get some mileage out of.