Zerowaste Gatherings

Fall is the season for enjoying the cooler weather and gearing up for a season of entertaining. With the holidays only a few short weeks away, I wanted to share some tips for entertaining without producing a huge amount of waste.

Here are some options to consider when you plan your next holiday party.

  1. Tablecloth or Placemats: These are an excellent replacement for paper or plastic table covers. Do you remember a time when you walked into a restaurant and sat down at a table dressed with a real tablecloth? It somehow makes the setting immediately seem more elegant and dressed up. I prefer darker colors of heavy weight cotton or linen. Just throw in the wash and dryer to clean.
  2. Cloth Napkins: Cloth napkins have the same effect as a cloth table cover. It gives the setting a more inviting atmosphere and they serve as table decor too. Similar to tablecloths, my favorite napkins are made out of heavy weight cotton or linen because they are easy to clean. Again, just throw in the wash and dryer and you are ready for your next party.
  3. Plates: Plates are indispensable. They will save you a lot of waste over single use paper or Styrofoam  disposable plates. Disposable plates may be convenient but not the best way to eat food when they get soggy from wet foods or are hard to balance on your lap. Having extra plates on hand will ensure you are always ready for a no waste gathering. No need to buy new plates if you wish to have a stash of plates used for entertaining. Peruse the local Goodwill store, flea market, or Craigslist ads for used dishes. I have 12 plates that I use for entertaining, so it’s easy to know how to limit my headcount based on that number.
  4. Reusable cutlery: I remember a friend ending up with a plastic fork breaking in her mouth as she took a bite of food. It’s not only more practical but also more beautiful and very easy to clean. After only using real forks for our gatherings this past year, it’s hard to want to go back to brittle plastic.
  5. Drink Dispensers: Instead of individual drinks in cans and bottles, how about making a batch of your favorite “party” drink and filling a large dispenser for your guests? This cuts down on a big amount of plastic and aluminum waste, that although recyclable, it is still quite wasteful since it will require energy to be recycled.
  6. Glasses: There are many eco-friendly choices for glassware. There are stainless steel glasses that can be purchased online that are virtually unbreakable. My favorite option is stemless glassware or canning jars which offer a rustic look at a very affordable price. If one breaks, it is easy to replace. Often you can find sets of these at Goodwill  or your local supermarket.
  7. Table Decor: The prettiest table decor to me includes natural plants and flowers. Green stems clipped from the backyard, the garden, or the local supermarket add that finishing touch to the table.


I hope you enjoy trying out these tips in the next few weeks as the holiday season kicks off. Every small step can lead to a significant positive impact on our health and the health of the only home we know.



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