Ring in 2022 with a Green Celebration
What better way to begin the new year than by organizing your celebrations with the environment in mind?! Many see NYE as the start of a new year and a time to one, reflect on the past year’s accomplishments, and two, to make goals for change as the next year begins. If concern for the planet is on your mind, there are many actionable steps you can take to limit your impact on the environment this New Year’s Eve and enjoy a more sustainable celebration.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than any other time of year. There are several simple ways to mitigate this and reduce the environmental impact of your New Year’s celebration. When planning your New Year’s Eve event, you can make conscious choices for a more sustainable party, such as:
- Use reusable glasses for champagne (and all drinks) instead of disposables.
- Purchase organic champagne (and other food and drink), which is made with grapes grown using biodynamic methods that are healthier for the local ecology.
- Make your own noisemakers and decorations (which can be reused from year to year, and opt for decorations made from renewable, biodegradable materials instead of plastics when you can).
Let’s look at the many other steps you can take for an eco-friendly New Year’s party.
Smart Food Choices: Planning Is Key
The first step is to have a plan for what you’ll be serving in order to decrease any food waste. Meal planning is one the simplest and most important things you can do to reduce food waste. When food is wasted it’s not only the food right in front of you that is being wasted, it is also the enormous amount of resources it takes to create and deliver that food; the time someone took to grow or raise the food, and then manufacture and transport it. Some food planning tips include:
- Conscious food planning means checking first to see if you have leftover ingredients and food from last week’s festivities and how you can incorporate those items into your current event.
- When shopping, consider how many people will attend and how many guests you will cook for.
- Don’t purchase food that is on sale just because it’s cheap. Everything you buy above what you really need for your planned meal can possibly end up in the trash.
- Don’t over-prepare too much food. People come together to enjoy themselves and have fun by spending time together on NYE.
- Serve food buffet-style so guests can help themselves to as little or as much as they’d like.
- When the party’s over, distribute leftovers to your guests. Freeze any leftovers, that way nothing will go to waste.
- Plan future meals based around any of the party’s leftovers.
Skip The Plastic
Set yourself a goal to avoid plastic as much as you can in order to create a sustainable New Years’ Eve. Here’s an outline:
- Use glass or any other reusable materials for your food and service ware.
- Using plastic in this day and age of sustainable disposable options is truly a faux pas. Show your eco-awareness by using eco-friendly serving items.
- Plastic straws are a definite no-no. Replace them with metal or paper straws. Bonus: you will reuse them over and over again.
- Napkins- colourful fabric napkins are the way to go. When the party’s over, toss into the wash and all the hard work is done for you.
It’s fun to pick a theme for your NYE party, such as 1920’s, Under the Stars, Love, Costume party, Black & White, Royalty… the ideas are endless! Once a theme is chosen, you can now get creative in your decor set-up. If there is no theme, just make the space festive with some of the following ideas. You can also ask your friends to share decorations if nothing appears in your home.
- Use lights from your Christmas tree.
- Fruit, flowers, candies, fabric… anything you find in your home or kitchen can be made into table centerpieces and decoration items.
- Cardboard boxes painted and cut into different shapes, such as stars, hearts, leaves, etc. and then hung look really festive and fun.
- Paint a “Happy New Year” sign and reuse it the next year.
- Biodegradable confetti- say no to any glitter and plastic confetti, as they are microplastics that eventually find their way into waterways and damage the fragile ecosystems. There are many low and zero-waste confetti options:
- DIY upcycled noisemakers– traditional noise makers are also an environmental hazard, as they’re often single-use, and made from plastic and metal. However, you can make your own noisemakers by upcycling a few materials from around the house — make a party horn using a cardboard tube and some compostable parchment paper, or fill a reusable jar with beans. Then, decorate them with colorful construction paper or pine tree twigs to make them extra festive for the holidays.
You are probably aware that using a personal vehicle is not environmentally-friendly. In fact, using a personal car produces about 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide a year. So, it’s quite a pollutant. This year leave your car at home and opt for public transport. You can also consider a sleepover if enjoying the evening at a friend’s home.
Skip the Fireworks
Fireworks are another aspect of New Year’s Eve celebrations that have a noticeable environmental impact. The chemicals used to propel and color fireworks are often carcinogenic, containing chemicals and dyes that are toxic to you and to the environment.
- According to the Coalition for Clean Air, heavy metals and particulates from fireworks can linger in the air, seep into the soil and trickle down into waterways.
- Large-scale fireworks displays have been shown to impact air quality for days after the celebration itself.
- George Allen, chief scientist at the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, says that the small-scale fireworks displays that have become part of some people’s New Year’s Eve tradition can be even more harmful to human health because of their proximity. “I think the bigger impact comes from all the folks setting off fireworks in their backyard,” Allen says. “There’s more of an impact of what people are exposed to in terms of the smoke.”
- He also cautions against DIY displays for the sake of fire safety, especially in dry areas that are susceptible to fire damage.
Think about how to have a light show or light displays. You can also rent or buy a drone that does all the fun for you. Bonus: this could be used for many other occasions throughout the year.
Thrift Your Outfit
You know that fast-fashion is extremely harmful for the environment and the leading cause of millions and millions of pounds of clothes ending up in landfills year after year. Thus opting out of buying a new outfit for this one celebration would be an eco-conscious action. Some alternatives include:
- Saving money and borrowing a dress from your friend.
- Purchase a multi-purpose dress from a second hand shop.
- Renting a gown for one night.
- Green Matters offers tips on thrifting and flipping old clothes.
SUMMARY: Hosting A Sustainable New Year’s Eve Celebration
New Year’s Eve and the following 1st of January are great days to kick off eco-friendly habits by making a few simple changes. Feel extra good when you raise a glass to toast this December 31st by resolving to make more sustainable choices in the new year. Now you also know how to enjoy an absolutely sustainable and environment-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration that everyone will remember and hopefully appreciate. Taking small steps that will lead to a long-lasting impact on the environment and your health is an excellent way to show your gratitude for Mother Earth. You never know, hopefully your actions will encourage and inspire others to follow some of the same eco-friendly party tips. Happy New Year!
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