Celebrate Less Waste
Oh the weather outside is frightful! Bundle up if you are in Wisconsin today. Weather like this makes me very glad that the hubby and I have decided to host a get together for friends for the holidays because then we get to see everyone without having to leave our apartment! Although many of the same waste reduction tips apply from our Thanksgiving get-together, when entertaining friends, there are a few extra tips.
Setting the mood
- Decorate with either a fake tree that you can reuse year after year or get a tree that you can keep in a pot and plant in the spring. If you need that ‘tree’ smell, decorate with boughs on the mantle or a real wreath. People with lots of land sometimes grow their own trees on their back lot line, constantly replacing an old tree with a new one.
- Make your own ornaments out of edible holiday cookies, old holiday cards, strings of popcorn, items collected on a vacation (like sea shells). Reuse these ornaments year after year instead of buying new ones every year.
- Use an old skirt, table cloth, or formal dress to make a tree skirt, mantle scarf, or table runner. My wedding dress worked out quite nicely for a tree skirt.
- Pull out the recycling bin and the garbage can. Place them right next to each other so that people know where both are. If you have a lot of out-of-towners that don’t know what gets recycled in Waukesha County, consider making a quick list and taping it above the can.
- Decorate to minimize electricity use. Opt for LED lights. Put everything on a timer. Consider only turning your holiday lights on for a few hours a night when they are most likely to be enjoyed rather than all night long.
Getting the Gang
- Invite people via phone calls or electronically to save holiday card waste. One year’s worth of America’s holiday cards would fill a football field 10 stories high so reduce the amount you send. If you must send traditional invitations or holiday cards, consider reusing decorative papers to make your own or purchase cards made from recycled content.
- When you receive holiday cards, think of creative ways to reuse them. They make great gift tags, decorative ornaments, framed decor, place cards, etc. If you can’t reuse them, make sure they are recycled.
- Suggest people carpool. Enable this by putting together a shared document on-line for people to share where they are coming from. We have 2 sets of friends coming from Milwaukee, 3 sets from Madison, a few from Janesville (you get the idea) so it is easy to suggest that they consider carpooling. It also helps in our case that everyone has met before. Carpooling also helps us out because there is not a lot of room for parking at our apartment so the fewer cars the better!
- Turn down the heat before people arrive, lots of bodies will heat the place up in a hurry!
- Purchase locally made eggnog and other drinks.
- Consider asking everyone to bake some cookies for a cookie exchange rather than purchasing a lot of heavily packaged foods. Have everyone bring a reusable container for some left overs (if there are any!)
- Opt for items purchased en-bulk. There is a lot less waste generated by serving soda from a 2L bottle than from individual cans.
- Have a gift exchange rather than having everyone get gifts individually. Playing a game to exchange gifts is one of the highlights of our party.
- Opt for reusables rather than disposables such as cups, plates, napkins, etc. When the party is over be sure to wash items using the least amount of water necessary by using an energy efficient dishwasher that is completely full.
Have I missed anything? I would love to hear your ideas.