For many of us, New Years’ Eve is a time to make changes. It’s a time when we can recommit to the way we wish to live our lives, and to move in new directions. This year more than ever before, we are drawn to ask not just how we can change our own lives. We also need to think about how we can change our lives collectively.
As we all know, building sustainable global systems is an essential change that we must work towards together, and the zero-waste movement presents a variety of ways to keep us on that path. So, whether you’re new to the zero-waste journey or not, throwing a zero-waste New Year’s Eve party is a great way to conscientiously begin the year.
Here then, we look at how to throw a zero-waste party and share the most essential supplies so you can take control of your trash and make your night go off with a bang with minimal environmental impact.
Zero-Waste Party Food
Locally bought food
Buying local food has a wide range of benefits, from supporting the local economy to increasing local biodiversity, depending on local farming practices. It also has the advantage of giving you greater flexibility when it comes to packaging options.
Save on plastic by making a fruit platter with seasonal produce carried home in your tote bag; serve a soup of the best seasonal vegetables, or even collect cheese and meats for your charcuterie in a beeswax-coated food wrap.
Snacks from the zero-waste store
If you are lucky enough to have zero-waste store near you, you may find that they have plenty of zero waste party snacks. Zero-waste stores often have things like pretzels, nuts and dried fruits, and if you’re really lucky, you might find some chocolate-covered peanuts.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make your own hummus. Most of the ingredients needed for hummus are common to zero-waste stores, and if you need to buy tahini from the supermarket, then you can save the glass jar it comes in to store your finished product!
Reusable food containers
The best zero-waste parties all leave their guests excited to begin their own zero-waste quests, and nothing is more important for the zero-waste movement than members of the community understanding each other’s strengths. This also offers a great excuse to reduce the burden of party prep; just ask guests to bring some of their own food in reusable containers.
Whether you decide to throw a full potluck, or simply ask your guests to bring along snacks, having a party full of guests who are armed with food-containers is always a good thing. This can also reduce food-waste, by enabling guests to bring home left-overs from the holiday season.
Zero-Waste Party Drinks
Homemade fermented soda
Not only does this recipe make a great zero-waste party drink, but it tastes delicious, provides you with a huge range of health benefits, and is guaranteed to impress your guests, whilst being super easy and a surefire way to any zero-waste party bubbling.
Whilst this recipe makes a very fancy soda, the method itself is very simple, and can be adapted to work with whatever ingredients are locally available. All you need is fruit and honey (or sugar), water, an airtight container, and 4 days to a week, depending on how cold it is where you live.
Plastic straws are infamous, and for good reason. No zero-waste party would be complete without zero-waste straws. There are plenty of options to choose from, though metal and bamboo are the most popular materials. If you’re feeling especially generous, you might even give these to your guests as part of a zero-waste loot bag.
If you don’t want your guests drinking tap water, it’s better to have a water dispenser instead of bottled water for your zero-waste party. This simple change will divert plenty of plastic from landfill, as the large bottles that water dispensers use are generally refilled reused many times throughout their life cycle. Of course, you can always use the tap too depending on the quality of water in your area/venue.
Other Zero-Waste Party Essentials
Zero-waste party invitations
Hand-written invitations might be beautiful and will surely add a lovely touch to your New Year’s Party. However, deciding to invite people to a zero-waste party with single-use paper can definitely send mixed messages. Instead, try using paperless invitations as an easy, waste reducing alternative. You could send a good old-fashioned text, create a poster on your computer, or even use an online service such as Paperless Post, which integrates beautiful invitation design with calendar functionality.
Zero-waste party decorations
It’s amazing how beautiful you can make a space using natural objects, and homemade decorations offer a fantastic alternative to plastic or paper party decorations. You could try wrapping a tree branch with vines or leaves and using it to decorate your mantelpiece, or piling stones from the beach or a river in the center of tables. Even if you live in an urban area, you can work with branches, leaves, pinecones, and other things found in your local park—just be sure to leave enough for others to enjoy!
From dealing with spills, to providing a safe home for cake, paper-towels are staples for many party hosts. Unfortunately, they have a very short lifespan, and are quickly turned into more trash. In contrast, cloth napkins or reusable towels are washable for continued use and are often much nicer to look at—bringing a touch of class to any zero-waste party or event.
Zero-waste party cutlery
The prospect of washing up plates and cutlery after a party can be horrifying. However, it’s often the only way to avoid sending large piles of disposable tableware to landfill. An alternative option is to provide your guests with reusable, portable cutlery sets.
Not only do these sets make a great zero-waste party favor, but they will help your guests on their own zero-waste journeys while reducing your washing up at the same time! What’s not to like?
With these zero-waste party supplies, you’re sure to throw a night to remember. But don’t forget, the goal is to create memories which last, not waste which lasts. If you’re setting a zero-waste New Year’s resolution and you’re looking for more advice and guidance on how to make your zero-waste journey last in 2022, check out the Zero Waste Blog. There are also plenty more products available to help on your zero-waste journey available at the Zero Waste Shop.