You may associate celebrations with an overflowing garbage can, but this doesn’t need to be the case! You can entertain family and guests while keeping your can from filling up. It just requires a little pre-planning and setting yourself up with durable goods.
Keep up your regular low waste habits
Don’t let your low-waste lifestyle take a hit from a last-minute scramble. Think ahead about serving meals with reusable plates, cups, wine goblets, utensils and napkins. If you cannot use reusable place settings, make sure everything is recyclable or compostable and dispose of them properly. Employ your regular low-waste shopping habits like buying in bulk, using your own containers and reusable bags and shopping at the farmers market for local foods. For easy snack or appetizer options, cut up fruits and veggies, or serve bulk bin items like nuts and assorted candies.
Decorations can be a major source of trash from celebrations. Avoid single use items and consider having a stock of versatile pieces such as reusable lights, candles, or cloth tablecloths for holidays. To make each seasonal event more special, add adornments such as reusable table runners or bunting and make your own centerpieces from fresh cut flowers, house plants, produce or greenery. Combining a rainbow of colors can be an effective way to celebrate spring while using what you have on hand.
For Easter celebrations, reuse the same baskets and plastic eggs each year, and consider more eco-friendly options like using natural dyes for real eggs instead of disposable kits and shredded paper instead of plastic grass. You can get creative and replace plastic eggs with small reusable bags or jars when they crack or are lost. Try to avoid packaging by exploring your grocery store’s bulk bins--you will find jellybeans and all kinds of sweets and chocolates unwrapped. To lessen the focus on candy, you can also try your hand at other festive foods like bunny-shaped pancakes or strategically arranged fruits, vegetables, and dips that form common symbols like eggs, chicks, and carrots.
When celebrating Passover, make sure all your dinner items down to your Seder plate are reusable. If you do not have enough wine glasses, consider asking guests to bring one of their own or check out a thrift store to pick up some inexpensive extras. Consider koshering some of your dishes and utensils for relatives that may keep Kosher rather than using disposables. Buy certified compostable items if this is not an option. If you serve foods you don’t otherwise normally eat, like matzo and gefiltefish, make sure you have a plan for using up their leftovers!
Don’t forget to separate your recyclables and food waste from the trash, and use a clear system for your guests. If you don’t have curbside organics collection, collect any compostable items you can’t put in your backyard compost bin to take to a drop-off location. After your party is over, clean up using green cleaners and relax knowing you’ve done your part.