Looking forward to your first post-Covid party? What about a zero-waste event to give your new normal a sustainable touch? Let’s celebrate the bubble popping in an eco-friendly way!
Keep it simple & sustainable!
Homemade food is probably the best way to reduce waste. Impress your guests with easy recipes based on waste-free ingredients you can buy in bulk, including snacks like nuts and vegetable chips. Go for local and seasonal fruit and vegetables, locally grown avocado for a delicious guacamole, local cheeses on bread from the bakery around the corner, olives, homemade popcorn, local and regional wines and beers, loose-leaf teas and infusions, homemade cookies and cakes, chocolate fondue… Easy as!
Not into cooking? Organise a potluck and discover your guests’ culinary talents and creativity. Ask them to bring their contribution to the meal in reusable containers.
To ditch or not to ditch…
Minimising your foodprint is not only about the ingredients you choose though, it’s also about not throwing food away. The food scraps that end up in landfills all over the world produce large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas even more harmful than CO2. To avoid this, try to not overbuy food and make sure there is room in your fridge or freezer for leftovers before the party starts. Or share them with your guests before they leave. Before you start cooking, also ask yourself how you are going to divert your food scraps from landfill. Are these really food scraps or could I use them in the soup? Do they go in the (community) compost? Or can I use them in the garden?
Say goodbye to disposable cups
(and revolutionise beer-pong!)
Remember those rubbish bags full of disposable plates, cutlery and cups? Papatūānuku (Earth Mother) does… Finger food and shared dishes are a good way to avoid the use of cutlery and plates. Ask your friends and family, and borrow non-disposable tableware and dishes. For bigger parties, you could also call on a party rental company or ask Wash against Waste at the Newtown Community Centre. Another very simple and informal solution is to ask your guests to bring their own reusable cups or have them drink from the bottle. And while waste is often associated with (non-recyclable) plastic, paper napkins also have an environmental impact. Prefer cloth napkins that are more durable and effective. You could even make your own from fabric scraps. Check ideas and tutorials online.
Balloons, (flag) banners and other shop-bought party decorations are generally not made of recyclable or recycled material. They have a lasting impact on the environment. Keywords for this part of the preparation are: reuse and upcycle. Use the nature around you (flowers, foliage, etc.) and go for edible decorations, like fruit and sweets. Whatever the season, holiday string lights will also give the place a joyous vibe.
Homemade decorations could be a fun activity for the kids, using recycled material. An upcycled piñata for their birthday party, banners of all kinds… creativity unleashed! Avoid the use of glue and glitter though, so your decorations remain recyclable. If you don’t make them too theme-specific, you can even keep them for your next party!
Gifts, a given?
The lockdown has postponed many birthdays, anniversaries and other party occasions, but the time has come to spoil young and old on their belated special day. If you are the star of the day, tell your guests you wish to avoid waste. Here are some zero-waste ideas you could suggest:
- Don’t wrap the presents or use cloth, a scarf or handkerchief as a furoshiki. You can also use reused newspaper or containers, like jars.
- Prefer homemade, upcycled or pre-loved gifts
- Support New Zealand’s wellness, entertainment or hospitality and tourism industries with experience gifts like a spa treatment, a dinner at a restaurant, an escape game, a trip, concert tickets, etc.
- Support a cause you care about with a waste free gift from The Good Registry
When you choose a present, think about its footprint and ‘end of life’. Also bear in mind there might be some collateral waste related to it, such as batteries, and select accordingly.