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Party for 24 guests – the paper plate debate

Posted by Environment Smart on 11/27 at 01:11 PM
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We recently hosted a 50th anniversary party for our parents. It was not a huge affair, but with 24 guests, it was significant enough to be concerned about the amount of garbage that we could produce. I am proud to say that we ended up with only one small bag of non-compostable or recyclable stuff. What we did to cut down on garbage was really no big deal, but there was one bone of contention.

The party was a lunch affair with a buffet-style meal. This sparked a bit of a debate regarding the dishes that we should use. Guests would be milling about between the living room, dining room and kitchen. We did not want to be be piling dirty dishes or washing them while guests were socializing in the kitchen. As we do not have a dishwasher, I was actually promoting the idea of using nice paper plates. These could be recycled or composted. The argument, however, was that the idea of not using real dishes was simply not acceptable for a 50th anniversary. What to do? We did not have enough matching dishes and we did not see the sense in renting dishes. Stoneware would be heavy to stand around with and china might be to fragile. The final solution was to invest in Corelle dishes. Corelle is light weight and durable if dropped. The dishes are thin and easy to stack, so that we could pile them out of sight and wash up after the party. We chose a plain white square set that would suit any occasion. We bought enough for future parties, so that we never need to worry about another paper plate debate in this house. 

Reducing the rest of our garbage was a simple matter.

  • We made sure to not waste food. With a buffet, we could prepare enough variety to suit everyone’s taste. A buffet also allowed guests to choose the amount of food they wanted, so that they did not leave much on their plates. Whatever was leftover was composted, with the exception of some meat and dairy.
  • Leftovers were kept in reusable containers and enjoyed in the following days.
  • We used real dishes and cutlery, but chose paper napkins because we wanted a 50th anniversary design on them. The napkins were recycled.
  • We wrapped the gift in craft paper with a nice raffia bow. The paper was reused by the children at the party and the bow was kept as a souvenir. 
  • The decorations were simple. We had some gold balloons (which the kids played with after the party) and some gold potpourri (mostly pine cones and wood shavings) elegantly placed on the tables. Some of the potpourri was taken home by guests and the rest can be reused for Christmas. We also had a beautiful floral centre piece that we are still enjoying several days later.
  • The Corelle that we purchased was environmentally packaged with no styrofoam or plastic. There was only some cardboard and paper to protect the plates. As we are keeping the packaging for storing the plates, there was not garbage anyway.

 

 

 

About the author: Environment Smart