With the holidays come parties, and with parties come trash. For your next holiday party, why not encourage recycling while educating your guests in a suggestive, non-offensive way? Everyone likes to pitch in and make a difference, even at parties.
According to Recycle Works, “From Thanksgiving to New Years Day, household waste increases by more than 25 percent. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons — it all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills.” There are various ways you can encourage recycling by making it easy and readily available.
Make it easy
The best way to make your gathering easy on the earth is to make it obvious and easy to recycle. Instead of having five trashcans throughout the house or meeting space, place small blue or green containers clearly marked for recycling. Place these little containers in obvious spots that are easy and convenient to use. For example, place a recycling container by the food table, in the kitchen and other places people are going to sit and chat.
Only have one trashcan in a central location where people can discard any non-recyclable material. Place a recyclable bin next to the trashcan with a sign on the trashcan that says, “Can I be recycled?” with an arrow pointing toward the recycling container. You may also want to have a bin next to the trashcan for unused food that can be used in your backyard compost or to use as food for your pets.
Use recycled goods
Buy or use recycled items for your decorations, dishware and gift-wrapping. Avoid spending money on new items as much as possible, as this will only add to the waste accumulated by holiday season. Use or make decorations from everyday household items such as brown paper bags. Purchase recycled paper or plastic dishware that can be recycled again. You can find recycled paper and plastic products at most health food stores and even at some big box stores. Encourage recycling by collecting all gift-wrap as people open gifts, and either reuse the paper yourself or place it in the recycling bin.
Do the dirty work
Unfortunately, most good deeds come with sacrifice, and at the end of the night someone will have to rummage through all the recycling and trash to make sure things ended up where they should go. Have someone (or you yourself) go through each recycling bin to make sure there isn’t any trash that’s been thrown in it by mistake. Separate the plastic, paper and aluminum for easy pick-up. Go through the trashcan as well and pull out any recyclable items that accidentally got thrown out.
Note if there are any items that you can recycle, such as used coffee and tea, brown paper or food byproducts. Used coffee and tea are great for a garden or as a soil conditioner. Brown paper bags and food byproducts make great additions to a compost. Try to eliminate as much waste as possible by finding creative and innovative ways to use the stuff left over. Everything else either needs to go into the trash or the recycling bin.
Your holiday party this season doesn’t have to add to the 25% more waste that Americans produce during the season. By implementing a few simple ideas and a little work to your party, you can encourage recycling and make a difference this year. It’s these small steps combined that can make a real impact on people and the earth.