‘Tis the season of holiday parties. Everyone wants to be the hostess with the mostess, but there can be a lot of waste that comes with throwing a good bash. Let’s dive into some waste-free holiday hosting tips.
For Decor, Go Organic
To reduce waste this season, choose compostable and edible decorations: potted plants, squash, dried orange and cranberry garlands, persimmons, branches, flowers, cinnamon sticks, etc. (You can find easy DIY drying recipes online, like this one for oranges.) Keep the kids occupied with a hole punch and multi-coloured leaves for fall confetti. Scents also go a long way in setting ambiance; get the cookies baking just before guests arrive, or light up a warm beeswax candle or incense.
Simply put, use the real stuff. Make sure you have an empty dishwasher, and ask friends to pop their dirty dishes in there. Ditch the ongoing paper towel budget for a one-time investment in real cloth napkins. If you do need to go with single-use, choose compostable plates and utensils (available in most health food stores and online), but be sure to actually compost them, or else they’re no better than the others.
The Main Event
Of course, the holidays are all about the food. Start with plastic-free groceries by shopping from bulk bins and farmers markets, bringing your own reusable bags, and asking the deli, bakery and cheese counters to wrap only in paper or your provided containers. Be realistic when shopping: know your menu, know your guests, know what’s in season. This handy tool determine how much food you need for any menu, this tool will tell you what’s growing locally, and this zero waste chef creates recipes with package-free ingredients. Don’t fall victim to food fads or deals on items you won’t eat, and try something before buying in bulk. For leftovers, get creative, and remember that almost anything can be frozen.
Gifting as a Guest
Of course, we’re not all playing host this holiday season. Chances are you’re headed to multiple holiday fêtes as a guest, so why not impress your host with a thoughtful eco gift.
Edibles: This is a no-brainer. Beverages and artisan jams, vinegars, oils, and sweets are easily found in plastic-free packaging. Extra credit: make your own.
Jumbo Growler: Share your homemade cider, mulled wine, or soup in a stainless steel party-sized growler. Leave the growler behind as a gift in itself.
Plastic-Free Kit: Give plastic-free essentials that will last far beyond the holiday season. We love beeswax wrap, artisan bar soaps, travel utensil pouches, steel straws and pretty cloth napkins.
Happy holiday hosting!
Publisher’s Note: Kaylin and Mackenzie Marcotte are the co-founders of Project PlastICK, a 30-day challenge to live plastic-free by shifting habits and finding sustainable alternatives. Mackenzie is a DC-based sustainability consultant, agriculture writer, and cyclist. Kaylin is a New York-based marketing and social media consultant, and an avid traveler.