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How to Throw a Zero-Waste Dinner Party

Ever taken out the rubbish after a dinner party, wondering how exactly you managed to rack up all that waste from just one night of fun? From disposable food packaging to extra paper napkins to tablecloths meant to be tossed, parties tend to come with a pretty hefty amount of waste. The good news is, while it may take some extra planning, it is possible to throw a first-class party that doesn’t clog up our landfills. The tips below will help you host a zero-waste dinner party and perhaps inspire your friends and family too!

Rent specialised items from a party rental company

If you’re hosting a very large crowd, you may need some special equipment, like serving trays, extra cloth napkins, tablecloths, coffee urns, and punch bowls. Fortunately, many of these items can be rented from party supply stores, saving you from purchasing unnecessary plastic implements that will be thrown out after the last guest goes home. If you have regular parties, wholesale restaurant supply stores, such as Nisbets, are wonderful because you can buy in bulk, and opt for dinnerware in place of hard plastic. Alternatively, you could mix-and-match cutlery and flatware from charity shops – it’s an affordable quirky alternative that is certain to look great on the dinner table.

Select appetisers in bulk packaging

Whether you’re preparing a full sit-down dinner or a buffet, the idea of adding a list of homemade appetisers to your to-do list probably seems less than appealing. Choosing items like olives, nuts, crisps and dips like hummous and buying in bulk instead of individual or small portion sizes will trim down the amount of packaging you wind up with – and it’s usually cheaper!

Buy beer in refillable bottles from a local brewery

Local craft breweries are happy to sell you beverages in large refillable glass bottles, which can be washed out and reused at the end of the night. And I think it tastes better than anything you can get in a bottle anyway! For those who prefer wine, a local wine shop may have a similar arrangement for their vintages, so it’s worth looking into. Shops like Majestic Wine also offer a free wine glass hire for parties.

Let your guests get in on the action

Reducing waste should really be a group effort! Let your friends know that waste reduction is the theme of the evening’s festivities, and allow them to contribute their ideas. Looking for plastic and paperless alternatives to common goods is challenging, and can really get the creative juices flowing if you rise to the occasion. Don’t forget to remind guests of your party’s intentions. Especially remember to post a reminder near the rubbish bin, since it’s easy to forget when you’re in the habit of throwing things away. If anything, these notes will make your guests more aware of how often they do just bin something and forget it.

Send leftovers home with attendees

Packaging isn’t the only thing we throw in the rubbish: food waste is a huge problem, as well. Portion out leftovers and hand them out among guests in reusable or recyclable containers such as old ice-cream tubs or glass jars. If you have a lot of extra food, consider sharing it with your neighbours. Olio, the food sharing app, is brilliant for this.

Once you become aware of how much waste we generate through our everyday activities, it’s hard to go back to your ordinary routine. One of the happiest developments that results from hosting a zero-waste party is that it will make you reconsider how you shop for, prepare, and eat food—and give you some ideas for how to cut back on the waste.

About the Writer
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.