November 15, 2010 in Features

Do Your Part: Keep waste under wraps at your holiday bash

Terri Bennett McClatchy Newspapers
 

With the holidays fast approaching the plans for parties are already under way.

From Thanksgiving dinner to a New Year’s Eve bash, it’s easy to throw a fabulous get-together without busting the budget or generating a bunch of extra trash.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, we generate about 25 percent more waste than usual between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. That’s an additional million tons of trash!

If your invitation list exceeds your number of place settings, renting supplies can be a green and economical way to entertain.

You can rent just a few pieces, or the entire setup for your party: linens, table settings, glassware, food servers, vases and so much more. If you actually bought all these items, it could cost you hundreds of dollars.

Renting can also make your job easier because some companies deliver to your door and pick up after the party. In many cases, you only need to rinse the dishes before sending them back. (Look under “rental service stores” in the Yellow Pages.)

For a more economical idea, look no further than nearby friends and relatives. They may have a stash of holiday-themed plates or some extra cloth napkins they will gladly let you borrow.

However, if you still have the silver-plated cheese straightener that you borrowed last June, you should return it before you ask for the plates.

Thrift stores and consignment shops are also perfect places to find interesting, one-of-a-kind items on a budget. Plus it’s a great conversation starter when each person has his or her own unique place setting.

If disposable items are your only option, choose paper products made with recycled paper. Look for ones that contain at least 30 percent post-consumer content, which is the paper we recycle as consumers.

Plastic products are convenient and can also be eco-friendly if you rinse and recycle them. Or better yet, wash and use them again.

The real key is to avoid buying plastic foam-like products labeled No. 6 on the bottom. These items are rarely accepted in plastic recycling programs and never break down in the environment.

Beverages served in reusable cups are the greenest party option, and this is where renting or borrowing can really come in handy.

Otherwise, choose beverage containers that you can easily recycle. Aluminum cans are always a good choice because the packaging is lighter, more compact and more easily recycled than glass or plastic.

Whether you buy or borrow, do your part and throw a party with the planet in mind.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist and host of DoYourPart.com, where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to terridoyourpart.com.


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