Give a Gift to the Environment with Waste-Not Holiday Cheer! [and use these party-planning tips for other parties throughout the year.]
Enjoy yourself without spending money on disposable items -- Have fun without creating mounds or mountains of waste! Here's how:
Do you send out holiday cards? This year, send cards printed on recycled paper! Using recycled paper tells your relative, friends, clients, and customers that you are concerned about your impact on the environment. Most card suppliers offer a variety of cards printed on recycled paper. If yours doesn't, choose another supplier and tell your supplier why you're changing. Planning a party? Use this checklist to plan a no-waste party for your home or business.
Party Planning Step 1. Refreshments/Meals
Choosing a restaurant? Choose a restaurant that uses cloth napkins and non-disposable dishes; where the management enthusiastically recycles. Ask questions! If the restaurant doesn't recycle, choose another place and let both restaurants know why.
Choosing a caterer? Choose a caterer who will supply reusable dishes and napkins, and will set up for recycling. If you're having the food supplied, ask the caterer to provide reusable trays that can then be returned or ask to have food presented on your trays/dishes. [Arrange to drop off trays before they will be needed and mark the bottoms with your name].
Do-it-yourself? Turn down the heat before your guests arrive. You'll save energy and your guests will be more comfortable, because the extra bodies will heat the house. Go on to Step 2 for more tips.
Party Planning Step 2. Simple and inexpensive
The simplest: choose a finger food menu (no forks or plates needed). Provide a recycling bin for beverage cans and bottles.
Purchase enough cloth napkins for the party (or rent from a linen service, see below). For a business party, ask for a volunteer to wash and fold purchased napkins after the party. Once bought, cloth napkins will be useful for years.
A little more fancy: Renting dishes, glassware and linens from a party store makes your party more elegant and eliminates the need to buy and dispose of paper products. Check "Rental Service Stores" in the yellow pages for a place to rent dishes, napkins, and flatware. Many will deliver. When you return used items, you return rinsed dishes and soiled napkins so only a little effort goes into using rented items.
Party Planning Step 3. Do you exchange gifts?
Ask everyone to be creative in gift-wrapping; no commercial paper allowed! Cloth (even napkins), old maps, Sunday comics, and other items can have a second life as wrapping paper. Consider awarding a prize for the most clever and waste-free package.
Consider a no-gift strategy. Do your friends or employees really need more stuff? As an alternative, donate to charity, or adopt a family [this can have unanticipated team building benefits, too].
If your office still uses disposable cups, a mug can make a fun gift exchange. Daily use of mugs will noticeably decrease the garbage in your employee lunchroom. Suggest that everyone check their homes for mugs they don't use or shop for "new" mugs at a thrift store.
At work, does the staff already use their own mugs? Ask them to bring them to the party.
Party Planning Step 4. Post or email a creative holiday party announcement and let everyone know that the theme this year is GIVE A GIFT TO THE ENVIRONMENT and WASTE-NOT!