How to Have a Zero-Waste Fourth of July
If you are trying to be more mindful of waste, especially in a country where 41 million people struggle with hunger, hosting events can be frustrating. Paper plates, plastic cups, leftovers that go bad before they can be eaten — these are all part of the typical waste produced from Fourth of July celebrations. Fortunately, there are adjustments you can make to help reduce the amount of waste from your event.
1. Avoid disposable items
Much of the waste produced by events comes from disposable items like plastic cups and utensils. Using real plates, napkins, forks and cups can help avoid most Fourth of July waste. Don’t have enough of your own? Consider renting items from a party rental company. If using real items isn’t an option, seek out compostable utensils and plates that can be placed directly into your own compost bin or local composting location when the event is over.
Drinks can be made in pitchers and served into glasses rather than buying plastic soda bottles or aluminum cans. If you do end up using aluminum cans, be sure to designate a collection bin for recycling them.
2.Make your own decorations
Another major area of waste is disposable decorations. Instead of buying plastic decorations you’ll just throw away after the party, use a cloth tablecloth and reusable decorations such as glass jars or bottles. For event-specific décor, look to nature for inspiration — such as flowers or herbs that can be composted after the event.
3. Shop local
When it comes to food, shopping local is typically better for the environment. Buying meat at a local butchery, for example, helps eliminate the typical waste from plastic and Styrofoam packaging. Choose seasonal produce, buy nuts/chocolates from bulk bins and utilize grocery store delis for party platter foods — all these will help eliminate unnecessary waste from packaging.
Are you thinking of having the food catered? Choose a caterer amenable to using as many environmentally friendly practices as possible.
4. Save/donate leftovers
Instead of just throwing away leftover food, ask each guest to take some home with them for meals later in the week, and scraps can be composted. If you have food catered for your event, donate it to a local food rescue, like Loaves & Fishes. Did you know that Loaves & Fishes will come and pick up professionally prepared food that will feed more than 25 people? Donating to a local food rescue will ensure that you are not only eliminating waste but also helping the community.
Have questions about how food rescue works? Learn more.