Party Time! Zero Waste style.

This weekend, I threw a cocktail party to celebrate my becoming an author. Our house's size limited our guest list, nonetheless, forty people RSVP'd. My full time work schedule did not give me much time to get ready. On Friday, I tackled the grocery shopping armed with a shopping list and a basket full of jars; Saturday, I worked from morning till 6:45pm, just in time to take a quick shower, take a few pictures to share with you and welcome our first guests.

My book describes Zero Waste entertaining, so this post is to show how I put some of my tips into practice.

Here is how we managed to make our soiree a Zero Waste event:


Glassware and plates

As mentioned before, when we host parties bigger than our table can sit (10) we serve a buffet of finger foods with our stack of cloth napkins (I only have 32, but was not worried about running out for our 40 guests, as I have learned from previous experiences that only half the guests actually use a napkin for finger foods). Our everyday glassware (two full shelves, about 50 pieces) eliminate our need for disposables. Our everyday (white ceramic) and camping (polished stainless) plates served as platters, a handful of turkey lacers as reusable toothpicks, and jars of plant trimmings as decorative items.

Reusable Ware

Food

To simplify my cooking, I took full advantage of items sold loose in my grocery store (one stop shop), including the salad bar, olive bar, prepared food counter, meat counter, fish counter, and cheese counter using jars; the bulk bins and bakery using cloth bags; and, the produce aisle using mesh bags. I also used home-grown and foraged (neighbor) herbs. Our menu consisted of:

Snacks
  • Pistachios (bulk bin)
  • Black olives (olive bar)
  • Green olives (olive bar)
  • Leo's breadsticks: He rolled leftover dough (onion tartlets) in a beaten egg, then in grated parmesan cheese (salad bar)

A few snacks

Veggies and Cheese
  • Zucchini (produce aisle) slices topped with a chickpea mixture: Marinated chickpeas (olive bar), blended with an immersion blender and seasoned with ground cumin (bulk bin) 
  • Mini Skewers of mozzarella balls, asparagus and cherry tomatoes: The ingredients consisted of a salad (prepared food counter), which we then separated and skewered onto turkey lacers.
  • Onion tartlets: Homemade using bulk ingredients
  • Eggplant spread and blinis: Homemade using bulk ingredients
  • Marinated chili peppers (olive bar) stuffed with a mixture of feta cheese (salad bar) and cream (reusable bottle), then tipped in freshly ground pepper (bulk bin)
  • Celery sticks (produce aisle) filled with a blue cheese (salad bar) mixture and a pecan (bulk bin) 
  • Goat cheese balls: I rolled the mixture used to stuffed the chili peppers in 3 different ingredients, including chopped celery leaves (discards of previous appetizer), chopped herbs (home-grown), and chopped almonds (bulk bins). I hid a snap pea (produce aisle) for extra crunch in the first two types.
  • Veggies (produce aisle) and hummus dip (salad bar)
  • Three types of cheese (cheese counter) on a platter and toasted baguette (stale baguette)

Veggie and Cheese Appetizers

Meat
  • Pate with toasted baguette and cornichons (recipe and origin of ingredients here)
  • Chicken and Quinoa meatballs (prepared foods counter) with their honey-mustard dip (homemade using the recipe provided in the book by replacing sugar with honey).

Pate and Baguette

Fish 
  • Smoked Salmon (fish counter) and lemon rind (produce aisle) on Blinis (homemade using bulk ingredients)
  • Salmon Sushi: Homemade using fresh salmon (fish counter) on sushi rice (bulk bin, using a mixture of bulk apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt to season the cooked rice), and a drop of homemade horseradish (recipe in the book).
  • Baked cheesy (grated, salad bar) shrimp (fish counter) toasts (stale baguette): This appetizer was my only hot item; once guests arrive I want to join the party and give them my full attention!

Smoked Salmon on blinis, topped with lemon  rind.

Sweets
  • Five types of cookies (bakery self serve)
  • Malt balls (bulk bin)
  • Sugar coated peanuts: Homemade using salted peanuts (bulk bin)
  • Fresh strawberries (produce aisle)

Sweets

Drinks
  • Revive Kombucha, sold in reusable growlers at our grocery store (the bottles are returned to customer service to be reused by the company)
  • Two types of beer, the growlers of which we get refilled at our local brewery
  • Red and White wine, the bottles of which we get refilled at a local winery
  • House Cocktail: Vodka (360 brand, available in flip-top bottles which we reuse for wine refills), French pomegranate lemonade (the bottles of which we also reuse for wine refills) and orange juice (I reuse and fill our milk bottles from the squeezing machine in my grocery store)
  • Flavored water: Rosemary and Lemon, simply squeezed into flip top bottles and then filled with water.

Cocktail and Flavored Waters

These accompanied with beautiful weather, great music and our favorite people, made for a successful and memorable event. And even a couple of days worth of leftovers!

Have a party scheduled? Questions? Ask away!

104 comments:

  1. Anonymous5/29/2013

    Wonderful!
    This is the kind of post the world has been waiting for! Appealing photos, dissected into all the planning that went into, the logistics and the effort. I LOVE these kind of posts! Please keep them coming.
    I personally am interested in the seating, the tables or what kind of music you had. But I'm probably weird. I simply want to know how to make such an event at home - a success! People nowadays forgot to socialize at home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our sofa can be arranged lots of different ways to accommodate seating. We also made our 6 dining chairs and 4 patio chairs available for people to seat. But most stood around the table, nibbling ;)

      Delete
    2. bonjour,
      ça ne serait pas possible d'activer sur le blog l'option traduction ? malheureusement, mon niveau d'anglais ne me permet pas d'apprecier toutes les subtilités des posts ...

      Delete
  2. I love your way of entertaining. We too have a very small home, but I feel it makes things "cozier" than a large house, where everyone spreads out too thin. In our home parties, everyone gets to talk to each other (what a concept, eh?).
    You have given me some good food ideas for our next soiree. Our usual parties consist of my making the appetizers, which, as you know, is very labor intensive. One of my favorites is roasted veggies that have been marinated in plain ol' olive oil for at least 1/2 hour or more. Put the mini potatoes, green beans, green/red peppers, squash, or whatever you wish in the 400 degree oven for 45-60 minutes, make sure they DON'T touch (it will make them steamy and mushy) and voila'.....the most delicious veggies you've ever tasted

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congratulations on your book and celebration. The ideas are wonderful and just in time for summer! I can't wait to try!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congratulations! Does your book will be issued in french? I take a chance... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oui, au mois de Septembre aux editions Les Arenes. Je suis en train de travailler dessus, raison pour laquelle je ne suis pas tres active sur le blog ces temps ci;(

      Delete
  5. Christa5/29/2013

    I rarely comment on blogs, but this post is absolutely fantastic. The number of ideas presented here, the beauty of the food, the thoughtfulness of zero-waste in everything - I'm amazed. Bea, your commitment has inspired me to transform my shopping and waste patterns. Your example is changing people's lives, people like me who were once very ignorant - please know that whenever you get discouraged.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Christa! I too was "once very ignorant"... I now beat myself for not embracing Zero Waste earlier -the money and time savings especially;)

      Delete
  6. Wow! So fantastic I can think of nothing more to say!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous5/29/2013

    Bea, I just read your book and LOVED it. I checked it out from the library but will likely buy a copy to pass around to friends. I'm also thinking we should have a Zero Waste booth at our Earth Day Fair next year--with your book displayed there for people to get further inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous5/29/2013

    Very inspiring! I enjoy cooking, but it has taken years of practice and a lot of food-waste, sadly, to learn how to plan for various dinners with different amounts of guests, but I have never cooked for more than 20. It really helps to see photographs and hear the specifics of what you did to prepare. And, I love the idea for the breadsticks!
    If you aren't already working on it, I hope you'll consider a Zero-Waste in the kitchen book, with more helpful ideas of using up what we have, or with recipes such as the mustard and pâté!
    JulieB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few others have mentioned that idea... keeping it in the back of my mind;)

      Delete
  9. The book is amazing--these pictures are great!

    How do you get the lemon slices out of the bottle? I can imagine getting the rosemary with a pair of tweezers, but how easy is it to get the lemon slices out? These are great ideas that I'd like to try this summer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get the rosemary and the lemon simply by sticking my finger in the top of the bottle to grab the material and slide it out (the lemon peels soften when they've marinated).

      Delete
  10. Wonderful post, Bea! I love seeing how you have managed to figure all of this out over the years. While reading through your meat/cheese section, though, I can't help but feel disheartened and am hoping for a little advice (motivation?). I have been going to a New Seasons grocer for the last 2 months and was able to use my jars NO PROBLEM. I was delighted. The same people were there all the time and I was the "jar" lady. Anyway, two weeks ago, problems started. First they said I couldn't, then they said I could as long as I let them sanitize them, then yesterday they said because my jars were not "their" jars, they could not guarantee them (or whatever). I was able to fill my jars myself, by explaining if there were true laws against it, that every store would have the same regulations, which (as we all know) they don't, and that another grocer had said they couldn't put it in my jar, but could put it on the counter and let me make the transfer. Probably won't work next time. I know that was long, but I just feel defeated. Do you have any other suggesstions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous5/29/2013

      Hi Paige,
      Isn't New Seasons in Portland? If so, they have been heavily advertising the fact that they are zero waste. Maybe you can use that to your advantage explaining that you are using your own containers because you also believe in zero waste and shouldn't they be encouraging such behavior if they are truly interested in zero waste? Just a thought . . .

      Delete
    2. I'm with you there!! The one I go to is in Vancouver, but they had Zero Waste signs all over the place. I had the same thought and used that in my arguement both times. The people behind the counter were totally in agreement with me. I also brought up the reusable glass milk bottles that are sold at the store and they informed me that it was ok, because it was the company's bottles. ARGGG...it's so frustrating! I think I'm going to have to update my review of them on the Bulk app. If it was up to me, I just wouldn't buy much meat, but my husband is the biggest carnivore there is! :( I don't want to have to drive into portland everytime I have to go grocery shopping, but I might have to. Have you tried out any?

      Delete
    3. Linnet5/29/2013

      Hi Paige, I am in Vancouver too and I believe there is a health regulation here that assigns liability to the store if by chance you get sick because the meat is contaminated by your jar not being clean. This was explained in an article in the West Ender about the Tiffin Project. I have found that small butcher/seafood and deli stores in my neighbourhood are either will to take the chance or unaware of that regulation.

      Delete
    4. Linnet5/29/2013

      Oops. I just realized you mean Vancouver WA, ignore above post!

      Delete
  11. Anonymous5/29/2013

    We call that flavoured water "fancy water" and use it at all our parties in place of bubbly water, and for those who don't want to drink alcohol. Mint and cucumber is my favourite!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow, those were 40 lucky people! Everything looks so delicious and beautiful. I love the simplicity of the jars as serving dishes. Very creative use of ready-made ingredients from the store. Thank you for another inspiring post, Bea!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Amazing, Bea! So creative and delicious-sounding! I really hope that a Zero Waste Home cookbook is next. Quick question: Where are your drinking glasses from? They seem like the perfect multipurpose glasses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous5/30/2013

      I have very similar ones from Ikea.

      Delete
    2. Nevermind my question, Bea! I actually just found the answer via your Facebook site. (For all here who were wondering, the glasses are a generic brand from a restaurant supply store.)

      Delete
    3. Anonymous7/14/2013

      I would like to second that suggestion, a cookbook,yes please Bea :-) Merci!. I am loving your new book. It's daytime reading and bedtime! Enjoying trying out the toiletry recipes. Thrift store clothes have been my favourite for a long time. I love showing off my Italian leather boots that I bought for NZ$4.

      Delete
  14. Anonymous5/29/2013

    Sounds like a lovely party. And your pictures are beautifully atmospheric. Thanks for sharing!

    Love the flip top water bottles with flavorings in them. My only question: how do you get those lemon slices out when you're done?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please see reply above, Thanks!

      Delete
  15. Anonymous5/29/2013

    I LOVE IT!! Such an amazing party and the thoughtfulness that went into it. I bet your guest felt well pampered. I preordered your book, and devoured it. It has to be one of my top books, I learned so much. THANK YOU for what you do and how willing you are to share it with the rest of us!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading my book!

      Delete
  16. I love seeing how you put everything into action. I am hosting a kid birthday party and would love to hear your ideas. It would be a great future post. We are vegan so I have to be creative with food. I will be using cloth napkins, tablecloth, banner, etc, and hope that I don't run out of dishes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous5/29/2013

      I just did this for my daughter's first birthday party, we chose brunch because we eat mostly plant-based and I figured lots of fresh fruit would be good. It was great! The fruit platter was my central dish and went over really well. I served a simple white cake with vanilla frosting, fresh violets from my garden as a decoration on top, and vanilla nice-cream and strawberries as optional toppers. Muffins and quiche (we have chickens so I served our guests something made with fresh eggs) along with juice and coffee, water with fresh mint... Apple blossoms were just out so a few fresh clippings made great centerpieces. We have a building at our local recycling center for "still usable" items and I found some streamers in there that I used sparingly on the backdrop and recycled when it was over. The birthday banner was made of reused paper pieces and I stored it for future use because it came out so nice! There are a lot of templates online to choose from. The only hurdle was letting friends and family know that pre-loved zero-waste gifts and gifts of experience were welcome... not very well received for the first time out so we still got a few pieces of plastic trash with some new toys and a couple plastic hangars with a couple new outfits, but the majority were pre-loved gifts in great shape and my daughter loves them! My sister-in-law went to a clothing swap and scored some awesome outfits, I don't think we will have to buy my daughter clothes except maybe socks for at least 18 months! Good luck with your party!

      Delete
    2. Great ideas anonymous!

      Delete
  17. Anonymous5/29/2013

    I loved your party, great ideas and great pictures. this will be on my list when i have a party planned. I love your book and its in my kitchen at all times so i can look at anytime. i work on zero waste everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Superb!! Thanks for sharing. I do a number of these already, but some others I'd never thought of! I hope you and your guests all had a blast.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous5/29/2013

    Lovely! A question: does your grocery store sell strawberries loose? Here in Connecticut, they only come in plastic boxes unless you pick or grow them yourself, or buy them directly from the farmer. Also, do you have any plastic-bag-free sources for grapes? I love to eat them but haven't in a long time because I don't want to feed demand for trash packaging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't speak for Bea obviously, but my guess is she gets those at the farmers market where they come loose and un-stickered. I know I've had trouble finding grapes and strawberries loose unless I can make it to a farmers market, it's tricky. Sometimes they have strawberries in the green plastic baskets and occasionally places take them back and reuse them, but not everywhere. Hope that helps, good luck!

      Delete
    2. Anonymous5/31/2013

      Personally, I buy local berries at the market, and they are either in a plastic berry basket or a plastic bag (terrible packaging for berries!), and so I take the berries and gently transfer them to my mesh bag and cheerfully hand the vendor back the plastic. I haven't done this at the grocery store with those plastic clamshell containers, probably because I only eat in-season local berries. :)

      Delete
    3. These are 2 great suggestions! The farmer's market is definitely my go-to choice for eliminating stickers, pesky baskets and grape bags.

      Delete
  20. Anonymous5/29/2013

    I'm wondering how/where you stored such a huge variety of foods durring and after preperation? You have a small house and such minimal dishes/cookwear it would seem to be quite a feat to organize all that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great question. The day I did my grocery shopping, I was due for a grocery run, but I only purchased for the party so I'd have plenty of room to organize the fresh goods in my refrigerator. That said, since I prepared my food the day it was going to be consumed, some could wait at room temperature until the party (cookies and onion tartlets for example). I also put a few fresh ones together right before guests arrived (zucchini rounds and blue cheese celery boats for exemple). During the day, I got all the ingredients in jars, ready to be assembled on plates at the last minute.

      Delete
  21. Anonymous5/29/2013

    Thank you for sharing with us! Great stuff! I was wondering how you feel about buying from the food-bars versus making things homemade? I know there is some packaging involved when the store stocks these bars, often not buying the items in bulk but taking them from their regular inventory, because I've asked and seen them stocking the salad and olive bars at my local grocery. I know your time is at a premium so buying these pre-made allows you to enjoy more free time, but do you think for those of us who are willing and able to make everything homemade from scratch it's a better option than store-bought pre-made? I guess I'm wondering if what the store wastes factors in at all for you or if you draw the line there, after all it's technically their waste if it doesn't come home with you (refuse!) but lately I'm feeling like I need to know if there was a bunch of plastic packaging that allowed products to make their way to me, and minimize it if I can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are 3 ways for a consumer to do Zero Waste today. Let's take a look at hummus for example. You can 1)Grow your ingredients yourself (For hummus, you'd need to grow your chick peas, your cumin, your olives for the olive oil, etc.). 2)Make hummus using bulk ingredients 3) Buy loose from the bars at the store. No matter what, the last 2 require packaging to get from the manufacturer to the store. The first option is hardly possible anymore (even the Ingalls required trips to the store!)
      I do not mind buying from the olive bar, because 1) I believe in voting with my dollar into practices that I want to see flourish (olive bars being one of them) 2) Raw olives are hard to come by for me to cure myself (the time I did, my girlfriend brought them to me from her yard).
      One has to find the balance that works for them. If you are able to grow all your ingredients (option 1) and enjoy all that life has to offer, that's great! I personally have tried the mostly homemade route (option 2, which I describe in the book) but came to find that it was not feasible for us in the long run (making cheese, butter, etc. was simply not sustainable for us). Today we have found a balance that works for us: A mix between homemade and store bought. If I had to make my own olives before throwing a party, I would probably never entertain and have dropped the Zero Waste lifestyle;(

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the feedback. I am able to grow quite a bit of my family's food so am squarely in between growing my ingredients and buying in bulk, and try to focus my go-to recipes on local ingredients I can grow or get in my small rural town. I understand the need for balance, it's a good reminder. I don't want to burn out myself or my family on ZW because they can't have the things they enjoy, but find myself being more and more critical of the whole "cradle to grave" concept of the products I am buying. Very much wishing ZW wasn't a foreign concept to so many.

      Delete
  22. Chevanne5/29/2013

    Ahhh!! Great work! I was really looking forward to a post like this since I'm trying to plan ahead for my daughter's first birthday in October. I want to avoid as many disposables on my end as possible since we'll have to deal with the packaging from gifts. Having it at home gives me more control over what waste I produce, but having it in a local park (the nice option) brings with it a lot of transporting and hassle. That detail still has to be worked out, but this post got me started with more creative ideas on how to make the day special without it being over-the-top or excessively wasteful. I've already thought of modifying a recipe I already have to make it a finger food and getting fresh fruit to make the decor as colorful as I can. Her outfit will be from a trusty second hand store and maybe I'll give her lips a little beet staining for color. Ha! Seriously, you're amazing.

    A little off topic... I'm using your play dough recipe for a career fair demonstration!

    ReplyDelete
  23. sarajean5/29/2013

    I just love this post!It is just so fun to look at. Great ideas....How did yo get the Lemons back out of your jars?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. please see reply above.

      Delete
  24. Saskia5/30/2013

    It looks like a great party food collection. One question....all the things you bought at the shop.... they must have been put in plastic containers... how would this be zero waste? I would probably buy the veggies fresh, put them in a paper bag for the journey home and make the food from scratch..... I am not sure if this is common in the US. In the netherlands this is the cheaper and healthier option compared to the ready made stuff

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She uses reuable glass containers that she brings with her each week.

      Delete
    2. You can also just have veggies loose in your basket and into your reuseable bag instead of wasting the paper bag, or use mesh reusable bags that you wash and bring back to the store each time. Just an added tip!

      Delete
    3. I use reusable mesh produce bags. And to keep my veggies fresh in the fridge I bought a big tupperware container that I can throw towns of greens into so I don't have to worry about tying knots in plastic bags to keep them fresh. I'm amazed at how much better the Tupperware does at keeping things fresh compared to the plastic bags!

      Delete
    4. I bring reusebale glass containers, mesh bags, and yes: old plastic containers and plastic bags that I've had from before I started my green journey five years ago...I will re-use the plastic containers until they fall apart. Is plastic ideal? No, but to discard the containers into a land fill isn't OK with me either. I mostly just re-use the plastic Tupperware, old take out plastic tubs, whatever to buy and transport food items from bulk or a food bar...then transfer to glass containers when I get home. Lighter load and food is *stored* mostly in glass (though sometimes I just take the glass ones in at the start. It all depends on what is clean at the time!)

      Delete
    5. Saskia: I brought reusables with me to the store (cloth bags, mesh bags, and jars) to eliminate the need for store wrappers. Please check out the tips and my post on grocery shopping to understand my system. Thanks!

      Delete
  25. Everything looks wonderful! I checked out your book and it had some fantastic ideas. What would you suggest for someone on a limited budget?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous6/01/2013

      Bea and her husband Scott have both blogged about the savings associated with this lifestyle. I think you'll find that most of these changes will save you money, not cost you more, thus helping you if you are on a limited budget.

      Delete
    2. I would suggest adopting a Zero Waste lifestyle;) The money savings have been amazing for us. 40% savings on our overall spending. Reducing (which limits consumption), buying secondhand, swapping disposables for reusables and shopping the bulk aisles all save money. You would not believe the list of items that we no longer buy!

      Delete
    3. Interestingly, bulk in Australia, that I've found often comes at a greater cost as it's organic or fair trade. I don't usually go out of my way to buy things that are organic etc, but now it's a side effect of buying in bulk. But my wallet isn't happy.

      Delete
    4. You wallet might not be happy. But your health (and subsequent savings on health costs), the Zero Waste community (and its future generation), and the environment are! Shopping is voting... Thanks for investing and voting "yes" on quality food!

      Delete
  26. Anonymous5/31/2013

    How about a wine punch...or fruit infused waters. Cucumber slices with a piped herb cream cheese dollop on each slice...a simple homemade pizza, cut in squares instead of slices...little individual quiches made in muffin tins ....fruit kebabs with a cube of pound cake, strawberry, banana slice and drizzled with a little chocolate sauce. Oh oh just made myselfhungry again!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous5/31/2013

    Yum...or a coffee, tea, cocoa evening with some cookies. I do like the punch idea and that would serve a lot of people.... or get together with another friend and do a potluck style ... divy up the food responsibilities.... one person makes a soup, the othfer a simple salad

    The possibilities are endless...

    ReplyDelete
  28. maggie6/01/2013

    lovely buffet! i'm now motivated to have more cocktail parties! speaking of cocktails, have you considered making limoncello with the lemons from your tree? it is quite tasty!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes and I found that I am allergic to it -a family joke= it goes straight to my head;)

      Delete
  29. Bea,

    I love you article here at http://www.remodelista.com/posts/expert-advice-10-ways-to-live-with-less-from-zero-waste-home !

    ReplyDelete
  30. Another amazing post! And perfect on time, even though the sun is not here yet (in France). I just have a question about the onion tartlets: do you have a particular recipe? Is it really onion tartlet or pissaladière? I would like to cook this at home and also do some breasticks like your son. They look so good.
    Thank you in advance :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ben oui, c'etait bien des pissaladieres;)

      Delete
    2. :D Ah super je vais trouver une recette facilement sur Internet! Merci pour ta réponse.

      Delete
  31. Anonymous6/06/2013

    Great to hear that your book is out!

    I have a boutique shop in an urban neighborhood that has an open-house block party every six weeks. Art galleries and shops open in the evening, the street is closed, and live music is set up outside. Patrons meander in and out of the shops which usually have wine and finger foods out for the taking.

    It's a lot of fun, but I'm struggling with the disposable waste issue. We sell handmade books and so are very careful about not having food people pick up with their fingers in the shop (finger prints on paper goods is not good!).

    We've been using wood tooth-picks and paper cups, but I want less waste. I've thought of edible "toothpicks" like pretzel sticks, and edible cups - maybe sake served in cucumber "cups".

    I'm thinking of getting second-hand glass or ceramic drinking cups and turkey lacers (for toothpicks) and just assuming that some people may walk off with them. I suppose that if a receptacle for used cups is available and the drinks are small-ish (like a mixed drink shot, instead of a glass of wine) people will be more likely to take a bite and a shot and then put the cup and metal toothpick directly in the receptacle after (instead of walking off with it). I'll just be sure to keep the receptacle neat and emptied often.

    Any ideas or comments? Thanks! Joules

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your ideas are exactly what I would have recommended. I recently did a book signing through a similar event. I brought glassware and finger foods. No one walked out with the glasses. Also, if you do not want to use toothpicks, many finger foods do not require them! In the above spread, only the meatballs and the salad skewers (maybe also the olives) made them necessary.
      Implementing reusables will most likely also inspire other venues to follow your lead!
      So, Go for it!

      Delete
  32. I am finding it very hard to implement things with my kids and hubby. Hubby doesn't like to throw things away, just in case he needs them. Ugh. My kids ages 11 (g), 8(b) and 5 (b) don't understand they resisting goodie bags and other things. How long did it take for your kids to accept? I am going to focus right now on LESS waste. That might be less stressful. My hubby also doesn't want to look weird if we do things differently. Any tips?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too am finding it difficult to get the rest of the family on board. Husband said he was "all for it" when I explained the concept and we decided to implement, but he just keep bringing home all kinds of single-use disposables and looking at me like I'm crazy when I remind him that we have alternatives to this stuff. 13 year old stepdaughter is fighting it tooth and nail also... doesn't want ANY hand-me-down clothes but is claiming to care very deeply about the environment... any and all advice appreciated :/

      Delete
    2. My kids have usually had hand me downs. But it's the crap from goodie bags, straws, etc. The little things.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous6/10/2013

      Remember that Bea made these changes gradually over the course of 2 years, so don't get discouraged if your family doesn't buy-in right away! If you are the grocery shopper in the family, you can implement many of these changes right away without help from your family. Find some bulk snacks they like as much as the plastic-wrapped ones. For example, I found a bulk source for wasabi almonds and spicy corn nuts and now my hubby doesn't bring home bags of those anymore! Also, maybe as your family sees you changing how you shop/consume, they will be more likely to get on board.

      Delete
    4. Before embarking on the Zero Waste journey, we watched documentaries with our kids to show the impact of consumption on the environment. Then I pointed out to them that party favors do not last longer (and therefore are no better) than Single-Use-Plastics. They break quickly which then makes them cry, and creates clutter, which they are responsible for picking up -which then also leads to cries;) They quickly adopted living with less as they understood that it makes cleaning and finding their favorite toys easier. My job was to simply point out the positive aspects of the lifestyle.
      As for my husband... Although my husband started a sustainability company, he could not see the point of individual action and really thought that ZW was costing us more. Once he found that we were saving a huge amount of money, he was on board about grocery shopping at the Health Food Store and swapping disposables for reusables, but decluttering was a slower process for him. He hung on to things for the "what if" at first, but now understand, that hanging onto them keep those resources from being shared with others and creates clutter. Once we started renting our home to fund for our getaways, he saw a real benefit to living with less!

      Delete
    5. Anonymous6/12/2013

      Yes! Implement gradually and focus on the benefits (nagging never works).

      My husband was all for the concept, too, but is a terrible grocery shopper - buys way too much food and is an impulse buyer. I had to consciously take over the shopping and cooking in order to do it my way (with a polite "don't worry about it, dear, I'll stop by the store...). But he is really liking the more healthful meals we are eating, and the whole foods we cook (instead of packaged meals) are now turning into habit.

      It has been more work for me, but ultimately he'll get the hang of it and I'll be able to give the shopping duties back to him... I hope ;)

      Delete
    6. Anonymous6/12/2013

      Since I took an interest in this subject and did a lot of reading, it was obvious that me and my husband had a very different set of information. So I suggested those documentaries to watch them together. They saved me the trouble of explaining and/or arguing. He got the point and some initiatives came from him. I don't miss any opportunity to praise his efforts. Sometimes he came home with the shopping in hands because he had no bag, but nowadays he always has a little reusable bag in his pocket. And this is just one example.

      Bea, when we embraced zero waste, we were resistant to buy clothes from second hand stores. Last Saturday we bought 3 very good quality shirts for him from a thrift store. I helped him find the right sizes and told him "pick what you like". He said he wouldn't mind doing another shopping spree like that in half a year! :) I think he's a convert!

      Delete
    7. Anonymous6/12/2013

      My husband and I are also loving the healthy, whole foods way of cooking--we both lost 10 pounds (no more potato chips and packages of cookies in the house :)

      We are now sharing our neighbor's trash service because we produce so little garbage--nice little cost saving bonus!

      Delete
  33. Anonymous6/07/2013

    I just found your blog and wanted to thank you for sharing! Your ideals and your aesthetics are both amazing. Please don't be discouraged by negative feedback. You have inspired me to change my habits. Yesterday at the grocery store, I asked about bringing my own containers for meat and cheese. They said no one had ever asked before but they were extremely positive about the idea. The meat guy even said he would "love it"!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is fantastic! Thanks so much for being open to change.
      If your grocery store also carries bulk, please share its location through our bulk app!

      Delete
  34. Hi Bea,
    just wanted to let you know that you and your blog has been mentioned in a german magazine! It is a magazine that focuses on green living and is free for health food store customers.
    Keep up the great work - you are getting internationally known ;-)
    Katja

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad that the German public is too getting interested in what we do. I was interviewed by Grazia, Germany this morning...

      Delete
  35. Anonymous6/09/2013

    The flavoured water looks so lovely in those bottles.
    Saw this amazing recycle art and thought of you:
    http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/recycled-art-masterpiece-made-from-junks/

    ReplyDelete
  36. Bea, I love this post. I've been following your blog and you're so inspiring! I have taken on several elements of zero waste in my life and am excited about trying zero waste for a baby shower this month and a birthday party in August! Thanks for sharing all your tips! I am loving your book by the way!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Stacie6/10/2013

    Great post as always. Keep up the wonderful work and thanks for sharing so many intimate details of your life - it helps a bunch! What do you use for your tablecloths? Is it actually a tablecloth cuz it looks like it could be a sheet ;) And what about the box thing under it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did not use a tablecloth, but the leftover of a used sheet (the remainder of the sheet that I used to make my cloth bags)... We use it when fabric scraps are needed for school projects. The kids also used it for Halloween and school costume (when they had to dress up as a Greek for example).
      It did not cover the whole table but just the wire mesh bin underneath.

      Delete
  38. Just hosted a wedding reception at my house for two good friends.
    While it wasn't quite *zero* waste, I am proud to say that it was definitely *less* waste: only *one* three gallon bag of non-recyclable, non-compo stable trash for over sixty guests!

    Some things we did:

    1. Big drinking dispenser filled with water with cucumber slices- kind of like Bea's flavored waters but on "steroids" ;-)

    2. Big 50's style percolator-type coffee urn. Urn was purchased at thrift store- no filters or mess

    3. Big glass dispenser of Sun Tea made with loose-leaf tea steepers (the spoon- style kind- you wrap a rubber band around the handles to pinch them down under the lid in the absence of a tea-bag string)

    4. Soft drinks were purchased in the 12-pack all-cardboard, no plastic rings cardboard recyclable packaging.

    5. The champagne glasses were all clear-glass or clear jars found at thrift stores with a bit of white lace tied to the handles

    6.Compostable, non-coated paper plates

    7. I reuse all my plastic party cutlery. I know regular thrift store stuff would be better, but since I have the plastic stuff already- and have been re-using it for years, that's what i do. It all gets washed in the dishwasher then stored for the next event.

    8. TWO SETS of clearly marked "recyclables", "compostables" and "garbage" receptacles used. One set went in the dining room, the other on the garden patio.

    9. All leftover food found homes! I froze what I kept, the bride and groom kept a bunch of the leftovers (and are eating very well this week!) and the leftover cupcakes (in lieu of wedding cake and home-made) and cookies I distributed to my very appriciative neighbors :-)

    Three more things of note:

    1. My friends held the actual ceremony at the local *used book* store where they met. It was an inexpensive venue and *great* way to support local community business! And one that is about *resuse*!

    2. The reception at my house was a MUSIC JAM... so all the music was local and home spun (some of the musicians played at the ceremony as well)

    3. My house is mere blocks away from the store, so low fuel consumption!

    So again, while not *zero* waste, it was *very little* waste and an easy cleanup. Although I look forward to doing better in the future, overall,I am very pleases with how this worked out!

    (Mazeltov to my friends Greg and Tera!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous6/11/2013

      All great ideas! I congratulate you for your efforts.
      But using plastic or paper at such an event...I personally cannot see myself using a plastic thing. I avoid malls and fast foods for this reason.

      Delete
  39. I bought your book 2 weeks ago and have been reading it ever since! So interesting and eye-opening! Will take it one step at a time and making changes in the kitchen and bathroom and cleaning!
    C'est fou à quel point je suis plus consciente de l'impact de mes choix! Je suis contrnte que tu aies décidé d'écrire et d'imprimer ce livre! Il est en train de changer ma vie, une journée à la fois, une décision à la fois!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Anonymous6/13/2013

    Bea, thank you for sharing all. Is it possible to add a search this blog bar so that those of us that have specific questions can search your blog more easily? Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous6/13/2013

      So, I am new to blogs, I figured out that is what the bar is in the top left corner, so sorry, I posted. Thank you again for helping us see how to not litter the earth and oceans.

      Delete
  41. Anonymous6/16/2013

    I do like the flavoured water bottles :-)

    I read about the blog in a German magazine yesterday, it was mentioned in a column by Fred Grimm in "Schrot & Korn", a magazine that is distributed in organic shops.
    http://www.schrotundkorn.de/2013/201306k01.php

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous6/17/2013

      Hahaha, I've read the same column! But as I've known this blog before, I was just happy to see it mentioned in a magazine that I read frequently. The zero waste lifestyle is very inspiring and I hope it'll get more popular in Germany soon.

      Delete
  42. Having just read your book and realising that I have a lot further to go than I realised I have been knocked off my pedestal and have started the first steps towards a waste free family. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I'm in the same boat as onepairofshoesatatime -- your blog and book have taught me that I have a long way to go, but I'm still inspired! Looking forward to your next post.

    Best,
    Elle @ idealdayproject

    ReplyDelete
  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  45. This is awesome! Thank you for being so detailed with everything and for showing that you can still have a great party with zero waste! Did you make your own cloth napkins?

    Lindsay @ www.tomatoboots.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, from vintage curtains.

      Delete
  46. Anonymous7/26/2013

    Thanks for the post. The turkey lacer idea was entirely new to me! I recently hosted a picnic as part of a wedding weekend, with a lot of this in mind. We used thrifted silverware and old quilts for picnic blankets and table cloths. Mason jars I use for storage at home became vases and the picnic baskets I normally use to store my craft supplies to both move and display food. I was dissapointed that the park did not allow glassware. I normally use a bunch of mismatched punch cups for large parties.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Bea, I absolutely love this post. How did you do tartlets if you have a minimal set of bakeware? Did you just use one pan and do several batches? Seems like that could take all day?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Baking all day would not be simple;)
      I filled my two baking sheets with one and only batch and baked them together.

      Delete