Written by Jennifer S. Li
We’re almost halfway through December and our weekend calendar is full of holiday parties. And while we love a good holiday gathering, all the waste is a real buzz kill. To help you party harder, better, more thoughtfully and less wastefully, we’ve compiled an evergreen guide for throwing a Zero Waste Party at any time of the year.
Our Zero Waste Party Guide
(Image courtesy of Zero Waste Chef)
Use real cups, silverware, plates and napkins when possible:
Do yourself and the planet a favor and invest in a set of reusable supplies for your parties (we have a very affordable, basic set that we keep in the garage, or perhaps you’d prefer to procure your own unique mismatched set at the thrift shop)—in the long run, not having to buy disposables will actually save you money. If you don’t have the space or budget to purchase and store a set of your own, call upon family, friends or neighbors to borrow items you might need. Hire a helper to do dishes if your budget allows. If you’re going to be on dish duty yourself, think of all the trees you saved, toxic gases prevented, cute ocean animals spared, and small children’s futures given a chance (sounds hyperbolic, but it’s not!) by diverting unnecessary paper and plastic disposables from landfills during the extra ten minutes or so you spend at the sink.
(Image courtesy Delish)
Serve drinks in fully recyclable cans and glass bottles:
If the thought of washing cups and glasses gives you the Bah Humbugs, serve drinks in fully recyclable, single-serve aluminum cans and glass bottles. On our last trip to the wine store, we were very impressed with the assortment of beautifully designed beer, hard kombucha, and hard seltzers in the refrigerated case. There are also some pretty decent wines that come in aluminum cans nowadays.
(Image courtesy Cooking Light)
Think finger foods:
Another way to avoid doing dishes is to serve delicious morsels that can go straight from table to mouth. Just a few mouth-watering ideas: Sweet or savory hand pies, Goat cheese stuffed dates, salad bites served on endive leaves, mini country biscuits with cheese and preserves, crispy ravioli, stuffed mushrooms.
(Image courtesy Laura Dixon Photography)
Forage items from nature and score secondhand decorations:
Skip the harmful tinsel, balloons, and other single-use decorations and stick with reusable, edible, or compostable décor. Take a walk in your neighborhood or go on a hike and get inspired by Mother Nature’s natural decoration: a craggy stick for a centerpiece, foraged leaves and greenery for accents, stones for place card holders, pomegranates and lemons from your backyard for a burst of color. Even better, make a stunning cheeseboard appetizer and put it in the center of your table—a feast for the eyes and belly! If you just can’t do without a giant Santa figurine or Menorah display, try to find it used at your local secondhand store or online.
Keep the menu simple, but specific:
Serve package-free foods sourced from your local farmers market (don’t forget your reusable produce bags and Swag bags!) and keep the menu small, simple, and specific to avoid unnecessary waste. If you are anticipating leftovers, avoid plastic bags, plastic wrap or aluminum foil by letting friends and family know to bring their own reusable containers for extras to take home. When friends ask if they can bring something, take charge and assign them something definitive like a bottle of wine or an amazing salad or appetizer that you know they make from scratch. There’s no worse party fail than a plastic-wrapped, precut, limp, crudités platter that no one asked for and that absolutely nobody touches.
Plan ahead, keep it simple, buy less and stick with reusables. This way, you can focus on what’s important—increasing your fun while decreasing your impact.