San Diego Botanic Garden Gala in the Garden Achieves Zero Waste with Solana Center Partnership

The San Diego Botanic Garden and Solana Center for Environmental Innovation teamed up to make San Diego Botanic Garden’s Gala in the Garden event on September 12, 2015 from 5-9:30 pm a truly zero waste event!

Now in its 16th year, the Gala in the Garden has a rich history in the community and is an important green event. This year Solana Center, with support from the City of Encinitas, led waste diversion efforts at the event by setting up eco stations and working with volunteers from Solana Beach Rotary and the Garden to collect and sort event-generated waste.

“We were happy to support the San Diego Botanic Garden’s efforts to create a sustainable event and were extremely pleased with the result!” said Solana Center’s Executive Director, Jessica Toth.

The results are in!

  • 97% of the “waste” was diverted from the landfill
  • 533 pounds of “waste” material were collected and sorted
  • 73% of the “waste” will be composted
  • 24% will be recycled

“It was exciting to see all that waste sorted instead of just being thrown out,” said Environmental Educator, Ashley Marquez. “People came over and thanked us when they saw us sorting.”

Every single bag of waste that was collected and sorted was weighed by Solana Center staff and volunteers. The food waste, liquids and wooden utensils will be composted using the Bokashi method. The Bokashi composting method is used for composting all organic waste, including meat and dairy and liquids. It was developed in Japan and used in Asia to ferment food before composting.

Public events leave behind large amounts of trash, much of which can be recycled or composted. The concept of zero waste has become increasingly popular as people learn how much waste can be reused, rather than disposed of.

“The planning is really crucial to the impact you can make,” said Marquez. “Communicating with vendors and making informed decisions about event supplies is extremely important.

Zero waste plans aim to help preserve dwindling landfill capacity while also helping the environment by encouraging more recycling, less production of waste and the development of new markets for recycled and composted materials. The City of San Diego recently adopted a Zero Waste plan, joining other cities with zero waste policies including New York, San Francisco and Austin, Texas.