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How to Throw a New Year's Bash, with Less Trash

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Make your NYE plans less trashy - go zero waste for your next bash.

SustaiNYEble Eve by Meghna Gupta

The holidays and the New Year are right around the corner, with tons of parties and celebrations. But a good time with your friends and family shouldn’t come at the cost of generating waste from the use of unsustainable products, which we see at most parties but often goes unattended. Here’s how to start your festivities with a new taste and less waste, which is our Christmas present to you!

The Impact

Can you imagine the amount of waste that will be generated (and will end up in landfills) if every person at every party or celebration eats from a disposable plate using disposable spoons and forks, and drinks from either paper or plastic cups? Not to forget the moment they exchange gifts with abundant wrapping.

  • Food Waste- Across the world, approximately 1.6 billion tonnes of food go to waste each year. This is around one-third of the total food produced (globally) by weight. Purchasing an excess of food, discarding the unused parts of certain foods, and the preference for processed foods because of their convenience, can contribute to this.

  • Packaging- Santa comes into town with gifts galore for the children and for the landfills- Consumers in the UK will use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year, and over 83km2 of this will end up in our bins. The attraction of extravagantly decorated presents without much regard to the waste generated, irresponsible discarding, and the lack of knowledge about the many sustainable options contribute to this. A commonly used option is wrapping paper, some of which cannot be recycled because of the plastic content in it. Another item used just as much as card and paper, oftentimes from manufacturers with unethical environmental policies.

Try Some Of These Sustainable Swaps Out

  1. Reusable and Sustainable Dishes and Decorations: Most disposable food ware is not recyclable and is oftentimes not made out of biodegradable materials. Swap your plastic plates, forks, spoons and cups for glass or paper alternatives that are easily available in a lot of stores and online. Stuff like ornaments, balloons, streamers, etc. are wasteful and can be swapped for more customizable alternatives like hand-made decorations made out of materials that you already have at home. Start a new tradition with your friends and family. Use products like candles and lamps, flowers and plants, and table décor made out of cloth, wool or wood instead, which can be reusable.

  2. Digitalize Your Party Invites: Use social media platforms or communication means to send out e-vites or e-cards to your guests, family and friends, instead of using paper or plastic cards. You can also make use of online delivery sites to send your loved ones presents, especially from niche, small businesses, some of which have selections of eco-friendly products and options to avoid the use of packaging.

  3. Responsible Waste Management: Have segregated waste bins for products that can be recycled and for wet and dry waste separately.

Food waste, which is a big source of waste during the holidays, can be managed by being mindful about the quantity purchased according to what can be consumed and avoiding leftovers- for example, making a detailed shopping list to avoid purchasing an excess of food and drinks. In a case where the food and drinks are leftover, asking the guests to carry reusable containers or offering them to your neighbours or people who are homeless in shelters can be a great way to avoid it going to unnecessary waste. Serving your meals in reusable dishes, rather than plastic containers, or avoiding the purchase of processed food that comes with packaging eliminates material waste.

A fun concept to try out this season are potlucks - parties where all the guests contribute to the food dishes and drinks and maybe even the decoration. This way the waste per household is reduced and all the guests can serve their food in sustainable dishes, enhancing the communal spirit! It is not the easiest to celebrate completely zero waste, so the next best alternative is disposing of the waste in a sustainable manner.


Addison County Solid Waste Management District, How To Throw A Waste Free Party-

Waste 4 Change, Throw Party without Throwing so Much Waste: How to Host A Less Waste Party(December 2019)

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