The holidays are a wonderful time for fun festivities and spending time with friends and family, however, it's also a time when we tend to create excess waste. The holidays often include activities such as decorating our homes, online shopping resulting in countless cardboard boxes and packaging, and utilizing plastic food ware for convenience while cooking meals for large groups. Simply put, the holidays can add up to a lot of waste, though if we consciously plan, we can maintain our focus on zero-waste living while still enjoying the festivities.
Making conscious and simple changes towards reducing our environmental footprint this holiday season can result in significant long-term benefits to the environment. Let's explore some easy ways you can reduce waste while entertaining this holiday season.
Keep it Real - Reuse
- When entertaining, use your reusable plates, cups, silverware and cloth napkins; avoid single-use plastic disposable items. Avoid the wasteful practice of using something 'one-time' and throwing it away. It may mean a bit more clean-up at the end of the evening, but your garbage bin won't be overflowing with single use tableware. Keeping it real is also a great way to elevate your party.
- If you don’t have enough glassware or plates, encourage everyone to bring their own. Your guests won’t forget which glass is theirs and your clean-up will be reduced.
- As often as possible, reuse or source materials already on hand for gifts purchased during the holiday season. Reuse cardboard boxes for storage or moving, and reuse gift bags and wrapping paper. You can also wrap your gifts with materials you have on hand, reusable cloth fabric, leftover paper from the previous year, newspaper or magazines, and even reusable baskets or jars. The gift itself is truly what matters, and if you are creative with your reuse wrapping, your resourcefulness and consideration for the environment will be appreciated and remembered. You might even inspire a new gift giving tradition among your loved ones.
Keep it Simple with Food
- You don't need to go overboard with food when entertaining, keep it simple. Buy groceries with a specific number of servings in mind to eliminate the waste of over purchasing. After the party, clean out your fridge by creating something delicious with your leftovers.
- Whenever possible, to reduce the amount of packaging you acquire, shop for groceries from a farmers market and buy in bulk containers from grocery stores. Use reusable cloth bags for your grocery items. The key here is to come prepared with your reusable bas when you shop, so you can consciously avoid using the store provided plastic or paper options.
- Remember to dispose of any unusable food in your green organics bin or home compost bin rather than the garbage.
Keep it Green
- When decorating this holiday season think about using items around you, such as leaves, branches, fruits and nuts for your centerpieces. Crafting homemade decorations can be a fun activity for the family that will create lasting memories.
- Reuse and upcycle your old decorations rather than buying new.
- Send e-cards versus traditional single-use disposable paper cards.
- Turn off your lights and use a timer to minimize energy consumption on your outdoor lights.
- Give gifts that help others to reduce their waste such as reusable bas, cloth napkins, steel water bottles, and consider gifting experiences instead of items.