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Zero Waste Holiday Gatherings


This is the season for celebrations and many of us will either be hosting or attending dinner parties, festive celebrations, and family gatherings. Here are seven tips on how to plan a festive zero-waste gathering that you, your loved ones, and the environment will love:

1. Smart Shopping

  • Buy local – There are many farmers markets around San Diego that sell homegrown veggies and goods. Visit a food market near you or explore a new one to find ethically grown ingredients! 
  • Buy Bulk – As recommended in our previous blog Zero Waste Thanksgiving, bulk buying some of your products to reduce plastic packaging and save some money! Bulk buying doesn’t mean you need to buy family-sized bags of produce, you can just bring your own containers to designated stores and fill them based on your needs.

2. Don’t feel like cooking? Find a sustainable restaurant to cater.

Save yourself some time and cater food from local businesses that align with your socio-environmental values. Some factors to consider when looking for places to cater are:

  • Is this restaurant locally owned?
  • Do they use seasonal ingredients to make their plates? Are there vegan options?
  • How are the packaging for the food deliveries and can I offer my own kitchen utensils as an alternative?

A great catering option in San Diego worth considering ordering from is Make Cafe. The outdoor garden restaurant and catering company is a job-training social enterprise that provides hands-on work experience to refugee and immigrant women. Their food is prepared from scratch with multiple vegetarian and vegan options. 

“Every time you are spending money you are casting a vote for the world you want” – Anne Lape’

3. Get creative with your parties and eliminate the need for dishware. 

Consider making finger food options, like crispy roasted potatoes or a delicious flatbread, for your party! This will not only save you time cooking but also reduce the amount of utensils and dishes you need to clean at the end of the night! 

4. Choose eco-conscious dishware

When possible, utilize reusable dishes, utensils, and cloth napkins. If you do choose to go with single use items, try to use more environmentally conscious options like compostable plates and paper plates made from recycled material. Check out the following link to learn about Verterra, a compostable plate brand made from fallen leaves in this following link.

5. Go natural with your decorations

Did you know that plants can reduce stress and enhance your mood? A study published in 2015 by the National Library of Medicine proved that interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress and boost mood and productivity.

Next time you are hosting a party try using plants as a form of decoration and psychological enhancer. Find greenery and flowers from your yard to create natural centerpieces. Pinecones are a great option too! Get inspired and check out these centerpiece ideas!

6. Help your guests be eco-friendly 

Many times all it takes to create change is to communicate. Put up signs to indicate which waste bins are trash, recycling, or composting, along with examples of what should go in each for your guests to know how to handle waste properly.  

7. After the party 

Who doesn’t love leftovers? Save the jam jars and mason jars to store or send leftover food for your or your guests. You can also repurpose empty glass beverage bottles into vases and centerpieces for your next event.


We hope this article inspires you to get creative with zero waste practices when hosting a party. Enjoy your night and don’t forget to take care of the environment!