Have a Holiday Party with Less Waste

Posted Thu, 12/13/2018 - 08:51


As the end of the year is quickly approaching, many people around the country will be gathering together during these shortened days to celebrate. Spending time with friends and loved ones is a great way to get out of the cold, but celebrations can also create a lot of waste. Packaging around gifts, food, decorations, and other party supplies can really add up. The more we throw away, the greater the likelihood that some of it will escape into the natural environment and make its way down our rivers and streams, to the ocean or Great Lakes. Having a fun, festive party and reducing your waste doesn’t have to be a chore — just use these handy tips:

  • Skip out on the single-use items. Cloth napkins, glassware, and reusable utensils can add an element of elegance to your gathering, and they reduce the amount you have to throw away. Even if you are having your party catered, you can talk to the caterer to make sure no single-use items are used.

  • Repurpose things you already have into new decorations. Cookie cutters make great ornaments, while glass jars and coconut flakes can be turned into snow globes. Be creative!

Decorations made from polar bear toys, glass jars, and coconut flakes.
Arctic animal toys and old jars can be transformed into a beautiful winter scene with a little creativity (Photo Credit: NOAA)
  • Buy food in bulk for holiday meals. Better yet, take your own containers and fill them up at a bulk food store.
  • Decorate with nature! Pine cones, evergreen boughs, and sprigs of holly are great for holiday decorating. Hiking through the woods to look for the perfect natural decorations is also a great way to spend time with family.

Centerpiece made of natural materials.
This centerpiece was made with pine, cedar, ivy, and holly found outside. (Photo Credit: NOAA)
  • If you compost organic waste at home, or your local government collects it, make sure to compost your leftover food, approved paper products, and those natural elements you used to decorate.
  • If you are participating in a gift exchange, encourage guests to bring homemade gifts, potted plants, reusable products, or minimally packaged items.

Homemade jars of pickled peppers.
These homemade pickled peppers are a thoughtful gift and the packaging they come in can be reused instead of thrown away. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

As we celebrate the holidays, celebrate the ocean and Great Lakes too. By making some small changes we can do our part to protect these valuable ecosystems and keep the seas free of debris.

Have a Holiday Party with Less Waste

Posted Thu, 12/13/2018 - 08:51

For citation purposes, unless otherwise noted, this article was authored by the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

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Thu, 12/13/2018 - 11:24

Love the idea about using jars with little figurines as holiday table ornaments!