Hey, Green Junkie!
It’s officially summer which means it’s time for drinks by the pool, trips and our favorite BBQ parties.
Parties can generate huge amounts of waste, so how do we enjoy our favorite summertime activity without harming the environment?
In this episode, I’m taking the stress out of your next party by giving you my best 5 tips for a low waste party – cause you deserve to enjoy your summer without the guilt.
You won’t want to miss this episode where we discuss,
- How to eliminate single use plasticware without the hassle
- Clever ways to reduce party food waste
- Unique reusable party decoration ideas
- How to locally source everything you need for your next party
You’ll discover that and so much more in this episode.
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Thanks for listening and being here.
Your green bestie,
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Produced by: Alecia Harris
Music By: Liz Fohle
TRANSCRIPT FOR EPISODE 44
Hi, Green Junkie! I'm your host, Stephanie Moram and today I'm focusing on how to host an eco friendly summer party, because it's that time of the year when you're ready to show off your grilling and culinary skills. But a lot of the times with summer parties, there comes trash bags full of red solo cups, and throw away plastic decorations, and tons of plastic cutlery and just so much waste. So how can you still have your summer party and keep the planet in mind at the same time?
If you love learning new ways you can reduce your impact on the environment. Please subscribe to the Green Junkie podcast on your favorite platform, you listen to that way, you'll never miss another green living episode. So now, five tips on how you can have a green summer party.
So let's start off with single use items – single use plastic. So one of the big things that you need for your summer party is cups, cutlery and plates, right. But before you run and go buy plastic for everything, have you thought about thrifting these items or going to your local thrift shop? And depending if you want to use glass or stainless steel, or get reusable plastics, you can find these things. And then you can keep reusing them over and over again, at any party you have. I have a stack of plastic cups, (because we have a pool, and there's no glass around the pool) that I bought at a thrift shop. And whenever my kids have friends over, or a birthday party in the summer, I take out those cups. And I keep reusing them over and over again. So I don't have to buy plastic disposable ones.
If the thought of having tons of dishes to wash at the end of your party like Stephanie, it's like not gonna happen. I have so much on my plate. I just want you to take a moment and think well, instead of buying plastic that is just you know, single use plastic cups and cutlery and plates that are just going to end up in the recycling. And let's be honest, a lot of those items, even though they have little triangle on it are probably not going to be recycled anyway. And sidenote, go listen to episode number eight, where I break down the different plastic numbers on tips on how you can recycle plastic and avoid landfills but also what can be recycled and what can't be recycled. So back to what I was talking about. So have you thought about getting compostable options, maybe unbleached paper for plates and stuff like that, instead of automatically going to the disposable side this way it can be composted after you're using it.
One idea I have that we've been doing for the last year is that when we go to get at with the kids, we don't always get a cone. When I say we, I mean the kids, they don't always get a cone. And sometimes they want to get their ice cream and some sort of bowl. And most of the time, I'd say 99% of the time, I have a reusable spoon with me. So we avoid the whole like plastic spoon. But there's that 1% where it's like on the fly and we go get ice cream. And you know, I'm not going to be a party pooper and we're still gonna get the ice cream anyways, but I keep those spoons and I bring them home. And then if I ever need to use plastic spoons for something, and I don't want to use the metal cutlery, then I have that option. And also about half the time the kids want to get their ice cream in a cup. And the place that we go to the cups are compostable, and they look like an actual cup like a drinking cup. So I save them, and I have a stack of them. So when we have friends over or the kids have friends over, and again around the pool, or any sort of like party, I'm gonna bring those out because if they break or they get, you know, cracked or whatever, I'm just going to throw them in the compost. And at least we got a second use out of that cup before putting it in the compost. Right after we got the ice cream.
Other things you can do to avoid single use items is napkins. Again, regular napkins usually can be composted. So if that's the route you want to go, then be sure to compost them after. But you could also invest in some cloth napkins or you can take some old T shirts and stuff, cut them up and then you have napkins and then just throw them in the wash whenever you're washing like, you know, your you know different things around the house. Like you know, I'm trying to think right now. When you're washing like you know, cleaning stuff, you can just throw those in with it and it's not that extra much extra to do. So that covers like single use items.
So let's talk about food. What are ways when you're planning your party that you can reduce food packaging as much as possible. I know this is a really really hard one because most food is wrapped in plastic and you know you're gonna want to have chips at your party probably and And unless you're making your own chips, there is going to be waste around it. But there's other things that you could get that might not have to be wrapped in packaging where you can reduce your waste. So fruits and veggies and things like that, instead of getting them pre cut by them, and then cut them yourself at home. And that way, you're kind of avoiding as much packaging as possible because plastic waste piles up at parties. And it's just a given because we just want fast. But if we stay take a step back and be a little bit more mindful of our purchasing, maybe we could avoid some of the packaging by making our own stuff at home. So again, cutting up your own fruits and veggies, making your own dip at home, or you know, making your own salad at home. So you're not getting these pre packaged items. And most of time in the summer, it's finger foods, right, which is great because you can reduce the amount of food that's getting wasted, because people are going to you know, kind of pick up the salads, you know, there's chips on the table, there might be some fruits, some veggies, some dips, and they're just going to take the amount that they actually are going to eat. So that kind of eliminates or reduces the amount of food waste that could be made because of the party. And, you know, when it comes to like the cutlery, not everyone is probably going to necessarily use cutlery, maybe not everyone's gonna eat salad. So again, there, you might not need to use as much of like utensils. Again, make your own salads, cut up your own veggies.
When it comes to drinks – You know, if you are buying drinks already packaged than buy cans, because they're 100% recyclable because they're made of aluminum. So this way, you can just either drop them in your recycling, or if you have programs like we have where they're worth five cents, we collect them, and then the kids bring them back and make five or $10 off of cans. So that could be an option as well. And look for things that are in glass, aluminum or compostable packaging, if you are buying stuff in packaged items.
And the last thing is if you really want to think outside of the box, and you want to do something a little bit different TerraCycle is a great resource for hard to recycle items. So in Canada, the US is terracycle.ca terracycle.com They have tons of programs. And they're free programs, where all you do is you print out a packaging label, and you fill up a box with certain items and they take it back and you just ship it and then they recycle it. Not everything that you are going to have waste at the party will be able to you will have to use TerraCycle. But there might be something so go to terracycle.ca terracycle.com. And you can see what free programs they offer. So you can recycle stuff that won't go in curbside recycling.
So we're talking about food, right? So how can we reduce our food waste, one way to reduce food waste is buying stuff in bulk. And you might be thinking, well, it's a party and probably not going to need much stuff in bulk. But maybe you're like having spices or things like that, that you don't normally use every day. But if you go to like a refill station, and you need a certain amount of spaces for whatever you're making, then you just buy what you need, instead of buying this big package that you might not finish and then it ends up going to waste either ends up in the trash or it ends up in the compost. So buying in bulk is a great thing. If you are buying hamburger buns or, you know you're not making your own hamburger meat, try to buy things in bigger quantities, because again, that's going to reduce on the packaging, as well. And most parties, there's leftovers, right. One thing you do is only make the amount of food that you actually need versus like making too much food. But there's always going to be leftovers. So a couple things that you can do to assure that this food just doesn't end up in the trash or the compost is have your guests bring their food home. And you can either before the party say “Hey, can you bring a container with you because if we have any leftovers, I'd love to give it to you to take home so you can eat it, so it doesn't go to waste.” So that could be one option.
Second option is you know you have containers from when you eat out, save those containers, those plastic containers or whatever containers you have, and have like the little drawer or bag. And when you have, you know, when people come over for the party, you just take one of those containers and use that as their you know, left over bag left over container. One thing that I did see that was super cool, I think it was like on Tiktok or something. This woman went to a thrift store and she kind of just bought you know, inexpensively very inexpensive. A bunch of containers like glass containers, you know casserole dishes and stuff with tops on it, and then she sees them so when people come over for dinner or like a party, she just gives them one of these dishes and she doesn't really care if she gets it back. She's just like, keep it, it's a gift if you want to give it back great if you don't, because most of the time we give people our containers, and then we're running after them to get them back, because it costs money, right. And so we want those containers back. But this way, if you just buy some at a thrift store, and it costs you a couple of dollars, like you might not be as worried about it, or if you save up containers from takeout, or if you ask your guests to bring their own containers as well.
And if you do have leftover food, and for whatever reason your guests aren't taking it or you have way too much, if stuff can be put in the freezer, or put it in the freezer, for you know, smoothies or juicing or making different things you know, adding to baked goods and stuff like that if you have any fruit leftover that could be used that way so it doesn't end up in the trash as well. And if you can compost I've mentioned compost about 5 million times already in this episode. If you can compost, please compost any leftover food that is that is there at the event, tried to just like compost it. Whether it is you have composting at home, or maybe you have a friend that compost you know, like, Hey, can I drop my compost at your house and put it in your like curbside composting bin, or maybe they have your friend has chickens and they eat, they'll eat the meat will eat the food, whatever it is, maybe be creative, because parties create waste and a lot of it is food. And if we get just divert that from the landfill, it would be awesome.
Next up decorations first. If you don't need decorations, don't buy them for the sake of buying them. So you're gonna save money. And second, you're gonna save money. But if you do want decorations, because we're all different, you're like, I really do want decorations. Maybe you can buy decorations that you can keep reusing every year. So instead of buying, you know these flimsy plastic decorations that are going to get ripped and torn, maybe get something a little bit more durable. And that way next time you have a party, you can use these decorations. When it comes to tablecloth, maybe try to get cloth tablecloths and avoid those flimsy plastic ones. Because to be honest, there's, you know, they're single use items, and they're going to end up in the trash because they can't be recycled. And maybe they can't be recycled. But no curbside is accepting those types of tablecloths to put in the recycling. So with cloth tablecloths, you can just throw them in the wash. And you can add those napkins that you have for your guests, those cloth napkins and just do one load of laundry together. If you do want to buy decorations, and you're not going to craft your own, and you know, you just really want to have decorations, I would suggest thrifting them or go to Facebook marketplace, I'm always going to recommend Facebook marketplace thrifting places because you're going to save money, and you're not going to have to buy new, and it is less waste is created when we support thrift stores and secondhand.
And lastly, number five is buy locally. So when you're buying your fruits and veggies when you're buying, let's say whatever it is you're putting on the grill, maybe think and be like, can I get these products locally. Because when you're buying local ingredients, not only does it help the local economy, but it's also going to reduce the carbon emissions because less fuel is being used during the transportation to the market. And food grown locally contains more vitamins and minerals compared to those that are travelled long distances. So when I'm buying food, I'm trying to get fruits and vegetables as local as possible, as opposed to like at West because I'm on the East Coast, you know, maybe support local bakeries, local shops, a local farm, you know, you could go to your local farm and say, Hey, I'm having a summer barbecue a summer party, and I need this much zucchini or I need this much carrots or this much cucumber. I'm sure you could work out a deal with them say hey, I'm gonna buy so many cucumbers. They'll be like, yeah, we'll give you a deal on this. And even if they don't give you a deal on it, you're still supporting a local farmer who's trying to make a difference.
So those are my five tips on how you can green your summer party. One avoid single use items to reduce the amount of waste associated with prepackaged foods. Two, reduce your food packaging. Three, reduce food waste. Four think a little bit more sustainably when you are decorating. And lastly, five shop locally.
For more green living inspiration, I have a couple of other episodes that you might find interesting. My second episode is called five ways to reduce your waste episode eight, which I mentioned at the beginning recycling plastic. What do those numbers mean? Episode nineteen 23 ways to reduce your plastic. Stay connected with me on Instagram and Tiktok app. This is Stephanie moram. And don't forget to subscribe to the Green Junkie podcast on your favorite platform. Thank you for listening and I'll see you next Tuesday Green Junkie.