I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas and I particularly love hosting Christmas parties and maybe this year consider hosting a holiday party the zero waste style.
Here are my tips:
Send paperless invitations — Paper invitations waste trees and natural resources. The best option is to send electronic invitations by using email or Evite.com. This eliminates tons of paper and saves the trees. Forget old impersonal evites, and add pictures and art to make them more fun and personal
Incorporate reusable or natural decorations — Forget disposable decorations that will just fill up your trash can, and instead say hello to anything you can use again. Why not use materials from nature like fallen branches, leaves, pinecones, etc.? Once you’re finished with these, you can add them to the compost — or why not use them to decorate the garden?
Skip the paper plates, plastic cups, bowls, napkins, etc. — I know that no one likes to do dishes all night after a party; but while plastic or Styrofoam cups and disposable dishware and utensils may be more convenient, they’re incredibly wasteful and they do end up in a landfill after the party. We use our regular plates and glasses, and — oh, yeah — it means more dishes for us to clean afterward. But nothing is more wasteful than disposable products. If you do want to utilize something disposable, choose items made from natural materials like cornstarch or bamboo that can be recycled or composted.
Use cloth tablecloths and napkins — Again, I know this does require more work with laundry afterward, too, but it’s a great way to reduce trash. Besides, it’s cheaper and looks way better. If you do not have enough plates, silverware and glasses, then consider borrow from someone who is not using theirs. If you must get new, go shopping at a thrift store for that perfect shabby chic look.
Use a cloth table covering and napkins and skip disposable napkins and table clothes and use a reusable ones.
Shop local and zero waste. like to shop for my holiday food at the local farmers’ market because I can find the freshest, local organic food with little or no wrapping at a low price. I plan my menu according to what is available locally. I buy everything else in bulk at my co-op.
Make fun organic and healthy treats — One major way to cut down on waste is to buy organic food from a local farmers’ market. Buy loose food rather than pre-packaged (even vegetables). I know it means more slicing and cutting, but it’s the best green way. While you’re shopping for the food for your party, use reusable produce bags. Google some fun, inspiring holiday treats to serve like this one from Martha Stewart or some vegan ones, perhaps.
Skip water bottles and serve tap water infused with herbs and fruits. It looks very nice. Buy beer and wine in bulk.
Save leftovers and let your imagination turn them into to new fun dishes. (Or search Pinterest.) Give guests the leftovers in mason jars. If you’re serving a turkey, save the carcass of the turkey breast and use as a base for making broth the next day, either on the stove or by slow cooker. As your guests to bring their own tupperware for those leftovers that might want to bring home.
Compost what you can’t eat—Food waste costs money, but more importantly, it is a huge environmental problem, so compost any food that simply cannot be eaten as leftovers.
Most important, have a fun and take good care of yourself. The best gift you can give yourself and your family is to overdo it and get wiped out.