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Waste Free Earth

Guest Feature: Marina McCoy and Alexandra Thompson

Alexandra Thompson and Marina McCoy started their careers in the events industry with a focus on sustainability. Alexandra wrote her honors senior thesis on the topic and has brought her sustainability lens vision to the various freelance roles she’s held throughout the festival world. Marina founded her company after realizing her own hypocrisy of studying sustainable tourism but attending festivals with little regard to her waste consumption. Alexandra and Marina met two years ago at Mempho Music Festival and have been implementing zero waste strategies together ever since.

“Before the pandemic, Waste Free Earth specialized in producing zero waste events. Through building custom zero waste strategies, we helped lessen the environmental impact and reduce overall waste consumption for hundreds of thousands of event guests and their hosts each year.

At MTV’s SnowGlobe last year, we were able to:

  • Decrease overall waste consumption by 90,717 pounds in 2019 alone

  • Donate over 3,704 pounds of warm clothing, housing material and products, along with food and beverages to local shelters in need

  • Save approximately 64,087 single-use plastic water bottles by using water refill stations

  • Educate staff using informative signage, manuals, and trainings for waste diversion

  • Offer a promotional merch portal of sustainable goods so festival and sponsor brands could build stronger connections to attendees with “swag” that they continue to use in their daily lives

  • Create a promotional merch portal of sustainable goods, so festival and sponsorship brands could sell “swag” that attendees could continue to use in their daily lives

The Future of Production - Zero Waste

We genuinely believe that the future of events and business development starts with the foundation of zero waste behaviors. If zero waste operations are a priority from day one, production teams save money, time, and effort as the business scales.

We are launching our crowdfunding campaign, Zero Waste Kickstart, to help startups and small businesses learn how to implement zero waste strategies in their operations. Working at events has taught us a great deal about consumption and waste systems. We’re so excited to broaden our impact by sharing that knowledge with other industries, so please support us by sharing with your network!

Waste During COVID-19

The average American produces 4.5 pounds of landfill waste per day. With less than 4% of the world’s population, the U.S. produces more than 30% of the planet’s total waste.

But is it possible to live with less waste during a pandemic? Absolutely!

Consumption of single-use plastic has increased by over 250% in the US since the outbreak of COVID-19. That doesn’t have to be the case moving forward. Virologists, epidemiologists, and health experts deemed reusables safe to use.

We encourage you to rethink every day waste and as we move forward in the events industry. We at Waste Free Earth want you to feel empowered to ditch single-use items with some relatively easy tips during the pandemic. We hope you incorporate these tips into your daily life post-pandemic too!


At home:

  1. Cook at home a few times a week to avoid takeout styrofoam and plastic wrap.

  2. When ordering out to eat at home, ask for no plastic utensils or condiment packets. If eating to-go outside, bring your own reusable utensils from home.

  3. Use a reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic ones.

  4. Switch to reusable k-cups with bulk coffee instead of single-use k-cups. Same thing with reusable coffee filters!

  5. Make DIY masks for an at-home spa night instead of buying them in plastic sleeves. You can even use your coffee grounds for exfoliation.

  6. Ditch paper towels and use cotton ones that can be washed in the laundry. You can even upcycle old t-shirts into rags.

  7. Switch to plastic-free laundry detergent tabs.

  8. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap. Same goes for shampoo & and conditioner!

  9. DIY hand sanitizer and cleaners.

At the grocery store:

  1. Bring your own reusable bags to replace single-use bags for fresh produce and at checkout.

  2. Buy fresh produce that isn’t already wrapped in plastic. Most produce has a natural protective layer - skin!

  3. Pay attention to the packaging of non-perishables. Prioritize buying those in aluminum, glass, cardboard, or paper. The goal is to buy packaging that is reusable or highly recyclable.

  4. Buy loose leaf tea and coffee grounds. Avoid pre-packaged single-serve options!

  5. Buy less meat that is packaged in styrofoam. Buy straight from the deli counter and/or incorporate more vegetarian meals in your diet.

  6. Buy in bulk with your reusable bags. Remember to wash them after every use!

  7. If you don’t have access to bulk shopping, buy in the largest size available. The bigger the container, the less waste you are creating from individually packaged smaller sizes.

  8. Wear a reusable cloth mask while shopping. Remember to wash it frequently!

Want to let others know that reusables are safe to use again? Here’s our outreach template that you can customize.

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