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How to party on Labor Day with less waste

With music playing, beverages flowing, delicious food available, and the last summer break moments fleeting, it’s no wonder Labor Day parties are highly anticipated events. Eco-conscious hosts often wonder how to strike a balance between  convenience and keeping waste to a minimum.

Reusable products, such as hand towels, ceramic dishes, glasses, and silverware, are convenient for everyday life or when just a few people are coming over. But throw 20 or more guests into the equation and it is easy to understand why disposable products are so attractive.

Food waste also is a concern when hosting. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more food reaches landfills than any other type of municipal solid waste. In fact, the Food Waste Reduction Alliance estimates that as much as 40% of the food that is grown, processed and transported in the United States will never be consumed.

Thankfully, there are ways to minimize waste when hosting a party.

Clearly distinguish recycling pails from trash pails so that items that can be recycled will be collected and handled appropriately.

Choose disposable products wisely, opting for items that have been made from recycled materials. Have guests mark their names on cups and plates so they can be reused throughout the day instead of discarded after each helping.

Keep track of how much food and drink guests consume so that you can accurately plan for the right amount to satisfy the crowd at future parties.

Choose in-season foods from local vendors to reduce your carbon footprint.

Offer keepsakes or edible treats instead of goodie bags. At kids’ parties, a decorate-your-own cookie or cupcake is popular and less wasteful than a plastic bag full of trinkets.

Serve beverages from larger containers rather than single-serve cans or bottles. Keep a pitcher of filtered water on tables instead of bottled water.

Promptly wrap up leftovers so they can be turned into a meal for another day without the risk of spoilage.

Serve desserts that can be held in one’s hand, such as cupcakes in an ice cream cone. This way no cake plates will be necessary.

With a little ingenuity, it is possible to cut down on party waste and still have a good time.

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