Council Green Tip: Planning Sustainable PTA Events with Food

An illustration of two people carrying our planet Earth togetherOne-third of all greenhouse gas emissions are generated by food systems. In lunch rooms, our students practice reducing waste and ensuring food scraps don’t end up in landfills. Here’s how PTAs can support these efforts, as we host many events—fundraisers, staff appreciation and more—that include food.

Event Planning

  • Prioritize local, minimally packaged and plant-based foods. 
  • Use pitchers, dispensers or refill stations. Avoid plastic-bottled drinks.
  • Use durable plates, cups and utensils; volunteers can help with cleaning. Or, use Cedar Grove/CMA Approved compostable ware only if you have composting pick-up service. (Note: If you have disposable items in storage, use what you have first with the goal of replacing that eventually with durable and/or compostable items.)
  • Coordinate with the custodian to have liquid buckets and compost bins available. Liners must be Cedar Grove Approved. PTAs can offer to buy these for their events (schools often purchase their own, and they are expensive). For smaller events, paper bags can be used to collect food waste.
  • Offer compostable bags or reusable containers for leftovers.


  • Before the event, let attendees (and vendors) know you plan to host a low-waste event so they are more mindful and plan accordingly. Encourage attendees to bring their own bottles and use water refill stations and/or containers for any leftovers.
  • Upon arrival, remind attendees to “take what they will eat, and eat what they take.” Show them where and how to sort their waste, and remind them that food and compostable ware in landfills contribute to methane emissions.
  • During the event, thank those who participate for their efforts.
  • After the event, weigh/count/take pictures of the bags of waste (trash, recyclables, compost) and share with the community, so we can continue to be more aware of the waste we create and work toward being better. 

For more information, refer to LWPTSA’s Best Practices for Waste Reduction

Feedback or questions? Contact our Sustainability committee chair at sustainability {at}