It’s Party Time: Tips for a Low Waste Party!
The holiday season is upon us, and so are the parties! Whether you’re hosting a party or attending, we have some ways to help lower your waste generation this holiday season. From food to kitchenware to leftovers to gifts, we have you covered!
Americans generate a staggering amount of food waste, especially during the holidays. If you’re planning to host a party, be conscious about the amount of food that you purchase and prepare. We never want to run out of food for our guests, but stick to the number of guests that have RSVP’d while shopping so you aren’t preparing a buffet that will go to waste. To learn about lowering your waste before you hit the grocery store, check out our blog about Precycling! While at the grocery store, save money and the environment by purchasing items you need in bulk and recyclable containers, skip the plastic produce bags and ALWAYS bring your own reusable shopping bags! Check out these great companies for easy ways to compost your food scraps: Love Your Mother Compost and Perennial City Composting.
One of the biggest ways to cut down on party waste is to use your own plates, cups, silverware and cloth napkins from home. If you don’t have the quantity you need, try purchasing more dinnerware at a second hand store. If you must purchase disposable dinnerware, our next suggestion would be to purchase compostable dinner and silverware. It’s important to remember that compostable does NOT mean recyclable. These items will need to be put in your home compost bin or taken to a commercial compost facility for proper disposal. ALL napkins, paper cups and plastic utensils are not recyclable and messy paper plates are NOT recyclable in your Blue Bin. When you’re shopping at the store, pay attention to how your item is packaged, what it’s made out of and how to properly dispose of it.
Be sure to set out your blue recycling bin next to your trash can so your guests know where to recycle! You don’t want to have to fish cans and bottles out of the trash at the end of the night! Also, be conscious of your decor. We suggest using fabric table cloths and reusable decorations instead of one-time-use pieces. Those plastic sheet-like table covers are not recyclable! Let your guests know before they arrive that you are planning a low waste party so they don’t contribute too much extra waste. Want to make sure your guests are recycling responsibly? Print out our Recycling 101 to post near your recycling bin! (If you do not have access to a printer- feel free to stop by our office and pick one up!)
It’s rare to have a holiday party without a few leftovers, right? Start to save up empty plastic tubs that once held butter or lunch meat. These can be washed and given to guests to carryout a leftovers plate. This way, you aren’t missing any valuable Tupperware and you are reusing containers! This will eliminate the use of one-time use resealable plastic bags that end up in the landfill! If you are a guest instead of a host, remember to bring a to-go container with you so you won’t have to rely on borrowing one from the host, in the event that there are leftovers shared.
Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Do YOUR Share:
The party is winding down and it’s time to clean up! If you have the luxury of a dishwasher, load it up as best you can. Some dishwashers have an energy-savings setting. Look for an “energy” button or check your manual to save water and energy. You may have a few loads of dishes, so be sure that you’re using soap that is not harmful to our health and environment- here are a few to learn about. For the dishes that are breakable and cannot be put in the dishwasher, ask a few of your dinner guests to lend a helping hand. Better yet, volunteer some trusted kiddos to help with the dishes! When hand washing, be conscious about the amount of water you are using by filling up the sink with water to allow dishes to soak and always dry with a reusable cloth. Here are some eco-friendly dish soaps for hand washing. If you didn’t use compostable dinnerware and chose disposable, make sure all your items are sorted responsibly from recycling versus trash. A few reminders while sorting: clean (food-free) aluminium trays ARE recyclable and plastic utensils ARE NOT recyclable! Not sure what plastic items to put in your Blue Bin? View our blog to learn what plastics can and cannot be recycled!
Let us not forget the holidays are about spending time with the ones we love and care about; not necessarily the quantity of material gifts. The easiest way to a low waste party is to skip the gifts and simply enjoy your time together. If you’re set on giving a gift, check out these fun alternative ideas for experiential gifts that will build memories rather than waste. If you choose a tangible gift, search resales shops and thrift stores for a unique gift before purchasing a brand new item. If you buy a newly made item as a gift, pick the one that has recyclable packaging. Gift wrapping tips: wrap your gifts in old wrapping paper, or, better yet, the cartoon section from the newspaper. Reduce, reuse, recycle!