Entertaining over Christmas? Why not send a sneaky little message with every function that you put on by going “green”? You don’t need to be preachy about it, just subtle education through leading by example in the things you use, refuse and reduce at your next occasion.
- Ditch the single use disposable plates and cutlery. I know, no one really likes to do the washing up particularly when you have invited all the relatives, neighbours and friends far and wide to your place for a feed. So the temptation is there to buy plastic plates to make your life easier. But did you know that these plastic items take between 500 and 1000 years to break down? And while they are swanning around in landfill they are leaching toxins into our ground water. So choose an alternative like compostable plates and cutlery made from corn starch and sugar cane pulp. They are comparable in price and won’t harm the environment. Set up a compost bin close to the gathering and tape a sign to it to educate your guests as to what can go in the compost.
- Don’t buy disposable plastic bottles. With our beautiful warm Christmas weather the temptation is there to buy those huge packs of 24 plastic wrapped, disposable bottles of water, or soft drinks packaged in plastic. But did you know some plastics never break down, discarded drink bottles account for 38% of landfill and it takes seven litres of water and one litre of oil to make 1 litre of bottled water? Okay so enough preaching, what’s the alternative? Drink dispensers, jugs, punch bowls are excellent receptacles for your Summer beverages and add just a little retro touch to your occasion.
- Be straw free. 500 million disposable plastic straws are used and discarded in the United States alone each day, which is enough to fill 127 school buses daily! Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it photo degrades which means it just breaks up into smaller and smaller plastic particles which clog our waterways, enter our oceans and are consumed by small fish and sea birds. The CSIRO has estimated that almost all sea birds will have plastic in their gut by 2050. Straws aren’t a party essential so just don’t use them or if you must, then opt for the paper, compostable alternatives.
- Buy in bulk to save money and packaging. One of the most challenging parts of catering an event is avoiding packaging but it can be done. Things like condiments can be bought in bulk and portioned out into bowls, buy meat from a butcher and have him pack into your own containers, buy baked goods from a baker and ask them to do the same. Fruit and veggies can be bought at the market and you can take along your own produce bags or paper bags for the grower to fill. Shop with reducing your packaging in mind and the alternatives will become apparent. Also allow yourself enough time to shop for your food items so you don’t give in to the last minute rush to the store.
- Opt for a BYO and TYO event. Yeah you’ve heard of BYO (bring your own) but what’s TYO? Well it’s “take your own”, meaning waste! Bring your own plate of food to share and take the plate home with you. Bring your own beverages and take your own bottles home to be recycled. Bring your own chocolates and chippies and … leave them with me! We are all conscious of our expenditure over Christmas and getting together for a shared meal is what it’s all about. No one expects that you should blow your whole Christmas budget entertaining others, and many foodies love the opportunity to showcase their signature dish, so let them! In fact, if they are willing, ask them to provide an email with their recipe that you can pass on to everyone who came (just a thought).
While there are many more ways that you can “go Green” over Christmas, these are just a few suggestions to get you started. So I hope you take them on board, educate your friends and family in subtle ways and help them all to walk a little lighter on the planet.