Easy and eco entertaining during the holidays

RecyclaXmasWith the holidays upon us, it’s likely that you are going to be doing some entertaining in the next few weeks, whether it’s a party for 75 or a cozy dinner for six.

Since this time of year is by far the most wasteful for Americans, if you can find any way to reduce waste at your lovely soiree, you’ll be doing Planet Earth a huge favor.

holiday_partyLuckily, with just a few easy changes to your routine, you can host your gathering and still make it an eco fete. Here are some ideas:

When planning your menu, try to incorporate some local foods and drinks into the plan. Doing so not only reduces the miles your foods travel, but also supports local farmers and business owners. This time of year, Recycla can easily get local cheeses and breads for a cheese board, local beef or chicken for the main course, and local wines and beers.

Regardless of whether or not you use local, seasonal ingredients, try to cook from scratch as much as you can. You’ll create less waste and your food will taste much better. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen creating elaborate meals; simplicity is key here. A roasted chicken served with a salad of mixed greens and one other side dish is delicious, easy, and not too hard on the budget.

For drinks, use pitchers of water instead of bottled water. It will save you money, look more elegant, and create far less waste. If this is a family-friendly party with children present, skip the juice boxes and have pitchers or glass bottles of juice.

If you’re serving sodas, buy glass bottles or aluminum cans instead of plastic bottles. This might seem counterintuitive to creating less waste, but plastic is hard on the environment when created and almost never recycled. Glass and metal, on the other hand, are more easily recycled.

You’re setting your table with real dishes, right? Disposable plates, cups, napkins, and utensils are the largest contributors to your trash can at your party, so use the real thing whenever possible. If you don’t have enough dishes, utensils, and glasses, borrow from friends. A few years ago, Recycla checked local thrift shops for plain white dishes and additional utensils and barware. Spending almost no money, she was able to put together enough of everything to serve a couple dozen guests.

If you must buy disposable cups or plates, purchase post-consumer recycled paper rather than Styrofoam or plastic. After the party, compost or recycle them.

When setting your table, skip the disposable plastic tablecloths and use real ones made from cloth. If you don’t have enough, borrow from friends, see what’s available at local thrift shops, or simply pull some sheets out of your linen closet.

Cloth napkins are much nicer than paper. They’re inexpensive to buy and also easy to make.

After the party, skip the hand washing and run your dishwasher, which will save water.

Hopefully, these tips will give you some ideas for how you can cut back on waste when you entertain.

Tell the Eco Women: Will you be doing any entertaining during the holidays?

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