Holiday and New Year parties and come and gone. Disposable utensils, paper cups and napkins were unfortunately the norm at the get-togethers I attended. I have to admit: I used plastic utensils. The little Lorax inside of me was screaming in agony as I ate with guilt. And thus, this post was born. While using disposable cutlery and prepackaged drinks are the more convenient choice, they are definitely no friend to the environment or to your wallet. Here are some ways to host a low-waste party:
Use actual dishes, cutlery and cups
Seems like a no-brainer right? You don’t have to go out and buy something destined to end up in a landfill by using whatever you already have AND save money at the same time! If you’re hosting a larger get-together, ask family and friends to bring extra cutlery, wine glasses and plates. At our household, we often do not have enough seating so we ask family to bring in extra folding chairs. Or if that’s a big no-no in your circle, consider checking out your local thrift store, Kijiji or BUNZ to get some items (who knows, some people may be giving things away for free!).
Yes, there will be cleanup after. But that’s what dishwashers are for right? Designate a spot for dirty dishes and utensils to make clean up a breeze.
Cloth Napkins and Tablecloths
I am not sure when using paper napkins and plastic tablecloths became the norm in my family but it was definitely time to say goodbye to single-use items and invest in quality cloth napkins and tablecloths. Go for darker coloured cloth napkins so stains don’t show up as easily and opt for plain, season/holiday-neutral tableware to maximize its use throughout the year (because honestly, pumpkin printed table cloths don’t really scream summer barbecue to me!).
Go Easy on the Decor (or use none at all!)
I’ve never been one to decorate for each season so this one was an easy one for me. Just don’t even bother decorating. But for those who love the extra pizazz of mistletoe or wheat wreaths, consider investing in natural decor. Things like potted plants and succulents make excellent centerpieces because they are super hardy and take little to no effort to manage. (I bought my wedding favours from a local succulent and plant shop, although nowadays succulents can be found almost everywhere!) Invest in double duty items, such as candles which go well in almost every season.
Avoid food waste (and take-out for that matter)
We have talked about tangible items that we can use to reduce waste but probably the biggest thing we can do to make our next party a little greener is to avoid food waste. Buying and serving take-out is easy and hassle-free but the styrofoam and black plastic containers used will ultimately end up in the landfill (see my post here for some ideas on how to reuse them!). Plan your party in advance and buy only what you need. Check out Flashfood. Rescue battered and sad looking produce that are just as nutritious as their snazzy-looking counterpart. See more about that next week! 🙂
While these tips may not work for everyone, it is a good place to start the conversation!
Are there any other things you do come party planning time to make it a little easier for you and your guests?