What’s the best part about the holidays? For most of us it’s joyful gatherings with friends and family and indulging in delicious food. With a little planning, hosting a holiday party can also be gentle on the environment. Here are some tips:

 
Ditch Disposables

Serve your guests with real dishes and silverware instead of disposable plates, cups, and utensils. It’s a lot more festive and avoids the toll that single-use disposable foodware takes on the planet. Even plates and cutlery labeled “compostable” take a lot of resources to produce and process. If you entertain often, consider investing in a couple dozen plates and glasses for those occasions—ideally pre-owned! If you host only occasionally, ask a neighbor, friend, or green-minded guest to let you borrow some of their dishes. Some cities even offer “zero-waste party kits” to check out. If reusables aren’t an option, check this guide to choosing compostable foodware.

 

 

Set Up a Recycling Station

Make proper sorting easy for your guests, especially if your party is buffet style or you’re getting kitchen help from people who don’t know your usual system. Set up one or more recycling stations in easily accessible spots, each made up of three containers: one for trash, one for organics, and one for recycling. The StopWaste sign maker tool lets you create customized posters to place above each container—and may save you from having to re-sort during cleanup.

 

 

Send Guests Home with Leftovers

Chances are there’s more delicious food than your guests can eat. Let the feast live on and prevent food waste by practicing the Filipino tradition of baon, which means sending your loved ones home with leftovers to enjoy. Instead of packing up the goodies in single-use containers, foil, or wrap, see if you can reuse packaging you’d otherwise recycle or put in the trash. Plan ahead and start saving your take-out containers and yogurt tubs now. Read this blog for details on reusing containers and packing leftovers.
 
To find more tips and recipes to make the most of your food, visit stopfoodwaste.org.