Kudos to you for planning ahead! This is the key to a successful zero waste soiree!
Involve your guests: Set the tone when you invite your guests by articulating your intention to cut down on trash. You can include in the invitation a few ways for guests to take part in the eco-friendly undertones by asking them to bring their own drinking vessel. It can be a fun and engaging way to spark conversation between guests. It will also eliminate the need for you to provide a single-use plastic cup or spend hours doing dishes. For those who forget, may we recommend these chic ceramic cocktail cups by Gravesco Pottery ($34) to have on hand? They are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the hand that holds it with gentle ridges and an indentation for the thumb. They keep cocktails cooler longer and warm drinks toasty.
Offer a mini prize for guests who walk, bike or rideshare to your event. With the days shorter, it can be tough to go right from work to an evening engagement and also make time to move one’s body. Let the transition between the work day and your event be an opportunity to get some endorphins poppin’.
By enticing guests with a small token for limiting their emissions in pursuit of your party, you can cut your event’s carbon emissions, eliminate any drunk driving and increase the chances your guests catch a shooting star blaze across the winter sky.
We suggest these mini meditation bundles ($20) as gifts for those who take part in the carbon-free celebration challenge. The bundles include artisanal incense sticks of palo santo and white sage and a bar of vegan soap. You could also gift these zero-waste flower bath packets by Poppy California ($8) . They make a perfect bath with dried flower petals, kaolin clay for soft skin and soothing scents like cedarwood and lemongrass.
White Elephant Gift Exchange: Gift exchanges are a fun activity and also bring out the quirky, creative side of party goers. Instead of buying new things, encourage guests to bring something well-loved from their own home that may be ready for a new owner. Thrift stores also provide a treasure-trove of oddities that can spark joy for the giver and receiver.
To make this activity extra eco-friendly, request that gifts are wrapped in materials that won’t end up in a landfill. Try using a piece of fabric, a vintage scarf, pages from a magazine, a reusable tote (like this cute chain stitched Thread Spun branded one ($45), or a handwoven cotton tea towel like this one we sell at the shop ($26). For a fancier gift, we love this Natural Silk Bandana ($60) as wrapping that will be well-loved for a lifetime. Tie it up with unbleached twine. You are opting out of the estimated 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper trash that ends up in the landfill every year. *
Plan the menu and find some inspiration for your menu with Thread Spun cookbooks. We are loving these two below that are written by immigrants and indigenous people.
Mamacita Cookbook ($50): Tap into mouth-watering recipes that endured for generations in author Andrea Pons’ family. Most recipes were preserved and perfected by the strong women in her lineage. Try the delectable Mexican holiday meal Chiles En Nogada (stuffed chiles in walnut sauce) that are suited to making in advance and are an unexpected, hearty delight. Her Rosca de Naranja (orange bundt cake) is also a bright and comforting holiday favorite.
New Native Kitchen Cookbook ($40): Pay homage this season to the first people of the land we inhabit by preparing holiday dishes to share indigenous cuisine. Co-Author, Freddie Bitsoie is the former executive chef at Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Counterpart co-author James O. Fraioli is a James Beard Award winning author. In the process of preparing these meaningful meals, you’ll gain insight into Native American cooking and preserve the heritage alongside your loved ones.
Shop local produce! Plan to purchase your ingredients at your local Farmers Market. We are big fans of the Leucadia Farmers Market that takes place on Sundays and benefits our local elementary school. By spending your dollars at the farmers market, you get direct access to organic growers within our own community who are cutting down on the typical carbon emissions of transporting produce many miles in refrigerated trucks.
We also love CSA boxes as a way to plan your holiday entertaining menu. They usually are free of plastic trash that comes with produce in supermarkets. If you’re local to Encinitas, we recommend Sea and Soil’s weekly subscription of produce because for each box sold, they donate one to a person in our community experiencing food insecurity.
You can taste the love and quality in their seasonally rotating fruits and veggies. Try this recipe by Farmers Greg and Leia. It’s their holiday entertaining favorite and includes the veggies they grow at the Sea and Soil farm in Cardiff, just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean.
Simplify Your Menu! Once you’ve selected a few dishes to serve, stop there! And even consider editing in favor of doubling some dishes rather than offering more options. This way, you’ll avoid the temptation to overstock your cart at the grocery store. Usually, last minute purchases can be knee-jerk buys that are heavily packaged in multiple layers of plastic.
Rest assured that with homemade dishes, folks are more likely to leave with leftovers. We suggest purchasing a few packs of these beeswax wraps to send your guests home with any food left at the end of the evening:
Reusable Beeswax Wraps ($20):
Replace the plastic wrap in your kitchen with toxin-free and earth friendly reusable wraps. They make great sandwich and snack wraps with no guilt of single plastic throw-aways (that never actually go away). Choose from colorful prints and between beeswax or vegan options.
Label Your Waste Receptacles: Take the time before guests arrive to clearly label your trash receptacles for ‘landfill’ ‘recyclables’ and ‘food waste’. Making it clear and simple to put their trash in the right bin will cut down on cross-contamination that could send your recyclables to the landfill rather than onto their next life.
Many waste haulers are now accepting food waste as part of environmental initiatives to turn compost into methane gas that can be used as a source of fuel for garbage trucks. Encinitas now accepts your food waste for this purpose. Just make sure to place it in your greenwaste bin.
If you are unsure about your city’s participating in organics recycling, you can freeze your food waste until you locate a local compost destination. Local to San Diego? The Solana Center provides education and services to help cut down on food waste or find a charity in need of food that would otherwise be discarded.
Our last tip for planning ahead is to stock up on eco-friendly Bamboo toilet paper. ‘Who Gives a Crap’ makes 100% bamboo or 100% compostable options that help your household limit deforestation caused by traditional toilet paper brands. Who Gives a Crap is also a certified B-Corp, meaning they meet the highest standards for environmental and social responsibility.
Nailing Festivity (Waste-Free!)
While we love fresh flowers when they are abundant in the spring, for the zero waste holiday, we recommend dried florals and greenery. Dried wreaths stay in style long after the holidays are over. You can also repurpose dried arrangements for gift wrap adornment. Here are a few of our top picks for holiday decor that’s zero waste.
Pampas Ring Wreath ($88):
This natural wreath is handmade with warm neutral colors of ivory, sage, and toasted honey. It’s a beautiful piece year round but for the holidays, it looks especially radiant accompanied with twinkle lights. You can mount it on the door or wall and also lay flat as a cheery centerpiece to your table.
Recycled Glass Vase by Pavot Blue ($48):
This organic-form vase is made in the Netherlands. Re-incarnated recycled glass showcases your precious florals.The glow of the glass nicely compliments the glow of dried florals in bright whites and creams.
Aura Sun Catcher ($60):
Brushed brass and a vintage cut crystal capture the twinkling lights of candles at night and the sun during the day. Each one is individually crafted by a team of women artisans making every piece unique. Add shine and shimmer to your holiday home with the addition of this timeless piece.
Intimate lighting with cozy candles in subtle holiday scents is the most effective way to create a warm and festive space. At Thread Spun, a wide array of candles are a staple on our shelves. We offer you our tried and true brands and add new labels into the mix weekly.
We seek out candles made with natural waxes and fragrance in reusable vessels. If you’re hosting, use this as your excuse to stock up on our fair trade, natural candles. You’ll need one in the guest bathroom, one for the kitchen and a few for gathering spaces. We’ve included our favorite holiday picks below.
Piñon Soy Candle ($20): Summon the starry night sky of the southwest with notes of piñon logs burning and lingering bonfires. This candle is made with 100% domestically grown soy wax and a cotton core wick. Re-use the amber glass vessel with its secure lid long after the candle is enjoyed.
Ojai Nuit Scented Candle ($32): Notes of Sandalwood and balsam fir are grounding and warm conjuring an Ojai evening. Roen candles feature a coconut wax blend and come in their signature pink box.
Beeswax Pine Cone Candles ($14 - $28): These hand poured beeswax beauties are the perfect holiday decor for the conscientious home. They are made from 100% pure beeswax with a cotton core wick. We love them arranged in clusters of large and small pine cones.
One last tip for upping the welcoming allure to your home: light a stick of incense a few minutes before guests are set to arrive right outside your front door. Your threshold will be defined by a welcoming glow, an uplifting scent and best of all, purify any bad vibes before they can enter the party. We suggest this Sweetgrass Campfire incense ($12) by Juniper Ridge and this timeless hand thrown stoneware holder ($32) by Incausa.
Gathering ‘round the Eco Conscious Table
Whether you're hosting a sit down meal or convening a pot-luck of appetizers, the table is the focal point of the gathering. So that zero waste isn’t an afterthought, set the table with natural and earthen materials avoiding single-use plastics. We've rounded up a few of our favorite products below. The best part is that they are festive but not seasonally constrained. You'll find joy using them over and over.
Large Ceramic Bowl ($90):
This bowl is 12 inches across, making it the perfect size for entertaining. It’s handmade in Joshua Tree of clay harvested right here in southern California. Its glowy glaze appears to shine from within and will look ethereal in the candle light.
Olive wood looks right at home on the holiday table and what we love most about the burled wood is that it continues to deepen and become more rich the longer you use it. We offer several fair trade options that are top sellers.
Start building your collection starting with this olive wood oval bowl ($65). You’ll be surprised how often you use it. We love this simple rectangular cheese board ($45) handmade in Tunisia from a single piece of wood. It's great to cut on and looks beautiful adorned with cheese, nuts and few sprigs of herbs. You can place olives, condiments and small bites in these cute tapas bowls ($22). Grab a few extra olive wood utensils (from $12) to have on hand when a guests forgets to bring one for their potluck dish. Olive wood is a subtle theme that unifies the table no matter what you're serving.
Water Hyacinth Charger ($26):
Chargers can dress up a table to elevate the overall look. We love these that are woven by women in Vietnam using traditional techniques of native water hyacinth. They add natural texture as placemats or under each dish if the meal is family style.
Spiral Beeswax Candles ($27):
These handmade beauties are hippie dippy on the inside and totally sophisticated on the dinner table. Handmade in the Catskills by Cave Glow with pure beeswax, cotton wicks and natural dyes, they come in two color palettes: Dusk and Sunset. We love the way they add an organic twist to create a beautiful atmosphere with warm lighting. The tall tapers are a beacon to let guests know where to find the food.
Hand Thrown Candle Holder ($44):
Place the beeswax tapers in these modern, minimalist holders. They come in winter white and forest green.
If you don’t have enough silverware, head to your local thrift store to purchase some extra settings before leaning on single use plastic cutlery. Even if they don’t match, there’s a charm in the eclecticism á la Chez Panisse. Place silverware in this gorgeous vessel by Virginia Sin (sold in store only) handmade in Brooklyn. It’s meant for this purpose so it won’t tip over but you can also use it as a vase for smaller gatherings.
Table Markers are a fun way to be creative and a great task for kids to be involved and take some pride in the event. Buy labels at your local craft store and hand write guest names or meal ingredients and affix them to these organic seed packets ($4), these palo santo incense sticks ($20) or these sweet gem stones. Let guests know to take one home as their party favor.
The Earth Friendly Clean-up
Take a bow, you’re in the homestretch of eco-friendly entertaining! Eliminating needless waste from our daily habits is easy when zero-waste products look good, function better than their wasteful counterparts and put a little pep in the steps of cleaning up. Here are a few items we love to lessen the waste stream and bring the satisfaction of being earth-friendly to your holiday:
Bergamot and Lime Solid Dish Soap ($14):
No more will you buy dish soap in a single use plastic bottle once you try this. This solid bar of dish soap will last months and be a pleasure to use everytime thanks to its delightful scent of lime and bergamot.
It’s formulated to cut grease and also be gentle on your skin. Here’s the best part-each label is made of seed paper. Plant it and watch your wildflowers bloom!
Eco-Friendly Long Handle Dish Brush ($10):
These hearty scrub brushes will make ditching your plastic scrubber a seamless transition to an earth friendly dishes-doing routine. Bristles are made of rough agave fiber to get sticky remnants off dishes. You can continue to replace the scrubber when needed and maintain the long handle.
Oaxacan Large Palm Basket ($90): Plastic bins make adequate storage containers for the garage or closet, but they will eventually become landfill fodder. For the items we may not use daily (like holiday decor) baskets are the way to stash and style a room. These palm baskets are woven by a family cooperative in Oaxaca, Mexico (where palms are native and abundant). They combine a weaving technique with a sewing technique that makes them more durable and perfect to store till the next time you entertain.
Eco-friendly Swedish Dishcloth ($7.50): We agree it’s a little bizarre to get excited about a dishcloth but when you see these playful prints, you may share in the enthusiasm. These reusable cloths are capable of retaining 20 times their weight in water and can take the place of 17 paper towels. Unlike a sponge they don’t trap bacteria. Does that make these the sexy alternative to a sponge? Okay, probably a stretch, but still very cute.
Our last tip for the zero waste mentality during the holidays is to stock up at the Nada Shop in downtown Encinitas. They’re our go-to for laundry detergent, cleaning products and kitchen supplies that smell great and are easy on the earth. We’ve included them in our Encinitas guide before because we love their products and also popping into the shop to see what kind of new innovations are here to enhance our routine.
That’s a wrap! We hope you learned something new here today that will lessen your holiday load. We sure learned a lot rounding up the best tips for reducing waste around the holidays and would like to give a special thanks to intersectional environmental activist, @greengirlleah for providing awareness and education that we incorporated into this blog. We’d also like to shout out Trash is for Tossers for seasonal tips all year ‘round.