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TerraVita Festival Tells All – Tips for a Waste Free Event

Chapel Hill’s Sustainable Food Festival TerraVita Founder Colleen Minton Dishes her Best Tips on Hosting a Low Waste, Eco-Friendly Wedding

TerraVita Food and Drink Festival in Chapel Hill is Sustainable and 98% Waste-Free. Use their tips to plan your own low-waste wedding or event! And make sure to attend this year’s TerraVita Festival, taking place in Chapel Hill and Carrboro from October 18-21, 2017.

TerraVita Festival Tells All - Tips for a Waste Free Event

At the annual TerraVita Food & Drink Festival, which takes place every fall in and around Chapel Hill, sustainability is paramount. In fact, it’s one of the country’s leading events focused on sustainable food and drink. For example, at the festival’s annual Grand Tasting on the Green, dozens of NC chefs and beverage providers offer samples, and hundreds of ticket holders partake, but only a couple of bags of trash are taken to the landfill once the fun ends.

Time out!

Yes, you read that correctly. Just a couple of bags of waste from a 3.5 hour food festival with dozens of vendors and hundreds of guests!

The take-away? A low-waste wedding or event is totally doable with a little planning and know-how. And lucky us, we got some of the best tips on hosting a nearly waste-free event, as well as some other great eco-friendly wedding planning tips, straight from the founder of this incredible festival.

TerraVita Festival Founder’s Tips for Hosting an Eco-friendly Wedding

  1.  Finding a caterer who supports a green and local approach is your first step toward a more eco-friendly wedding. In this era and in the NC Triangle Area, many understand how important this is to clients and to the environment.
  2.  Have your caterer source local food (particularly important when it comes to your seafood and meat), and then, spread the word to your guests! Incorporate the details into your menu cards, with something like, “This beef was sourced just 8 miles up the road from Rare Earth Farms!” This shows your guests how much thought you’ve put into your dream day – and how much your community means to you. Perhaps it will even inspire someone else to buy from the farm, or even host their next event in this fashion.
  3. If you can incorporate reusable materials, that’s wonderful (here are a list of local SB&G recommendations for china rentals). But that’s not always feasible for every event or every need. Maybe you can use china and linen for dinner, and disposables only for cocktails or dessert. You can purchase some elegant compostables at, or, if you’re in the Durham area, head to Not Just Paper.
  4.  If you are trying to compost or recycle most of your materials, dedicated staffers must be educated about separating materials. The key to composting and recycling is understanding it.
  5.  Partner with a composting facility, which is where everything must be taken once collected. At TerraVita, Colleen says the high degree of waste control wouldn’t be possible without a commitment from the participants and partnerships with Orange County Solid Waste Management and Brooks Contractors, a commercial composting company located in Chatham County. Once you’ve got a food composting facility, it really opens up the possibilities. For example, you can’t compost bones at home – but you can if you are taking those bones to a professional facility. So, put the chicken wings on the menu!
  6. Offer compostable to-go food containers to guests so that you’re not throwing out delicious, paid-for meals at the end of the night.
  7. The sky is really the limit. You can be eco-friendly when it comes to your invitations, your flowers, your transportation, your makeup. Think about eco-friendly wedding favors – a glass jar of local honey, a local candle, or a cookie treat. A good rule of thumb is to avoid plastics – they are the eco-friendly enemy as they take so long to break down.
  8. Think ahead about what you will have left over – decorations, candles, flowers, all of it. Partner with a nonprofit who could use those items, and ask friends to coordinate getting those items to the nonprofit immediately after the wedding.
  9. Expand the horizons and make it a team effort! Communicate to your guests and vendors that you’d like them to support your efforts for a low-waste wedding all weekend long. Post the message to your wedding website, in a welcome bag notice to your guests, in conversation with all vendors, and in signage at the wedding itself. Even plastic water bottles can be recycled, but your guests have to make a conscious effort to recycle them all weekend.


TerraVita Festival Tells All - Tips for a Waste Free Event
“Remember, a successful ‘green’ event is less trash, not zero trash. Two trash bags are better than 20,” says Colleen.

Meet some Southern Bride & Groom Family Members at TerraVita Festival

Southern Bride & Groom magazine is proud to be a media sponsor of TerraVita Festival, and we are avid fans of its mission of sustainability! We want to give a special shout out to a few of the SB&G Preferred Vendors who are involved in this project. We hope you’ll check out some of these events. Make it a date night!


This article was contributed by Andrea Griffith Cash.

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