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How to Throw a Zero Waste-minded Class Party

Lakeridge is a Level 4 certified Green School which means we recycle and compost as much waste as possible.  Our goal is always zero waste!  Zero Waste means everything used for a party from food, napkins, caps, decorations, utensils etc can either be recycled or composted. 

About Compost:

Everything that goes into your mouth is compostable (literally except gum – who knew!). This include melon rinds, coffee grounds, chicken bones, egg shells and wax cheese rind.  Additionally, pizza boxes, paper plates, paper cups or wax lined cups like Dixie, cardboard boxes, egg and berry cardboard cartons, plain paper, napkins etc. can also be composted.  If something is wax lined it is compostable, if it has a plastic film, it is not. You can tell the difference by scraping your nail across the cup, for example, and if it is wax lined some of the wax will come up under your nail.  Plates, cups, straws, utensils etc.. made from compostable materials are compostable.  All supplies in the front office are either reusable or compostable!

Check link for Mercer Island specific guidelines on composting: http://www.mercergov.org/files/Republic_YardWaste_Flyer_2013.pdf

About Recycling:

All of these just need to be cleaned out and emptied to recycle: Aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles, milk and juice boxes, clean paper, plastic cups with the recycle triangle on the bottom, tin cans, yogurt and apple sauce cups and even the aluminum foil pull off top!

Not recyclable: Capri sun (boo!), tiny little plastic wraps around straws, granola bar wrappers or any bar wrappers, little plastic fruit chew pouches, aluminum or plastic coookie, chip pouches, most tiny plastic things that hold something together to something else are not.  Bottle caps are not (but reusable for art!)

Check the link for Mercer Island specific guidelines: http://www.mercergov.org/files/Republic_Recycling_Flyer_2013.pdf

Decorations & Party Favors: 

Most decorations have a plastic film on them which make them non-recyclable.  Find paper or cloth tablecloths and use natural decorations (flowers, plants, colorful fruits, stones, bare branches decorated with ornaments or ribbon, etc.) that are biodegradable or reusable.  Party favors can be snacks without plastic wrapping.  If you want to bring in colorful decorations, have kids cut out hearts, rainbows, swirls, color themed designs from construction paper and either save them for next year or recycle.  Balloons are not environmental at all and the district has a latex-free policy, so just skip them all together.


Avoid plastics and non-recyclables: Skip individual plastic water bottles and juice boxes. No more juice boxes!  We can do it!  Juice boxes and milk cartons are recyclable and therefore ZERO WASTE and allowed. BUT… so much less wasteful to do the following:  use large reusable water dispensers (pitchers) for water or to mix frozen juices you can buy at the grocery store.  Use cups that are made from paper or have a recycle symbol on the bottom.  Drinks in aluminum, glass or plastic containers are recyclable.   ***Best option would be to use the reusable cups provided by the PTA


  • To avoid waste, be careful not to overbuy.
  • At the same time, buying in bulk (like goldfish) keeps plastic wrapping and individual wrappings to zero and keeps you at zero waste.
  • No individual, single serving snacks of any kind.  None of these wrappers are recyclable and are very wasteful.
  • Pay attention to the little things, like paper cupcake wrappers are good, but not the aluminum ones.
  • Send food home with parents or students or teachers!  Even consider arranging with a local food bank to pick up leftovers at the end of the event
  • Serve local and organic food when possible, and offer a vegetarian option.


  • The Lakeridge Green Team is now providing reusable plates, cups, and utensils for each classroom – it’s the greenest option! 
  • If using disposable foodware, remember that the PTA provides compostable plates, napkins and utensils in the front office for your class parties!

Additional Resources


Permanent link to this article: https://lakeridgepta.org/volunteer/room-parent-guide-2012/green-school-guidelines/