A year has passed since I wrote this and though my party plans for the season are less ambitious in terms of number of guests, my enthusiasm and dedication for living in a zero waste world are unremitting.
So for those of you who missed this the first time around, here is my take on a festive season and party preparation that is in alignment to Conscious Living and that doesn't leave a flood of trash in its wake.
Transitioning towards a zero waste home is an up hill, but satisfying struggle. Our annual winter Solstice/Christmas/New Year Party is a test for my conscience and my skills in utilising new found habits and intentions. Better late than never I say and what better than a party as a perfect time to exhibit a more sustainable approach to having fun.
This was a party for 50 adults and 15 kids. Age scope was between of 4 and 80. The guests were from various countries and cultures and at least 4 different languages were spoken. We had at least two vegans and one guest in a wheelchair. The idea was to bring beloved friends together and, as always, to create an interesting fusion atmosphere, menu and vibe rather than emulate the local and expected.
Party Preparation Guideline Principles:
1. Minimize all forms of waste.
- I borrowed plates, bowls and cutlery from a neighbour (and a party guest) rather than use disposable.
- I bought some cheap, sturdy and stack-able glasses that can be used for water, wine or mulled wine and I justify the acquisition as I will use for years and whenever I have guests.
- I made napkins and reused some fabric I've had for years as table cloths. (Note: my local tailor did the sewing; I love to support local crafts people while avoiding jobs that I'm not great at!)
2. Ensure gifts are NOT bought for us and our children. Instead I asked our guests to bring a used toy or book that were added to our donation box for children in need. (This was wonderful as all the kids that came bought something for our box!)
3. Create a menu using local products (as much as is possible)
4. Buy all the produce from the local pazar or shops using our own bags. Including using my container to buy the meat.
5. Prep in advance and use glass containers with lids or jars rather than plastic wrap to protect food.
6. Use what I already have to decorate the house. As we have celebrated Christmas one way or another for many years we have made and accumulated many decorations.
7. Confession. I love fairy lights, but more so I love the dark of night and am painfully aware of the lure of led lights. They appear economical in terms of energy, but contradict that fact in that they are used everywhere to the point that the world never knows night and the energy savings are nullified. So, yes, I admit I bought some new lights for our outdoor pine tree. They and the other lights were used for a limited two week period and then they went back in to their boxes (until now again!) leaving the dark to the bats and the energy to go unspent.
8. Of course there is no palm oil in the house! So no crisps or coated nuts or ready made foods. Instead we have normal nuts and other finger foods.
9. No cola and such like as the sugar in that stuff is unjustifiable and the sugar free versions seems even more suspicious. Here is Turkey citrus fruits are abundant so fresh squeezed orange juice was available (vodka was an optional extra!) and lemon water.
10. Meat: beef and lamb are best avoided so they have been bulked out (I checked to see if anyone noticed and the honestly did not!) I had added loads of finely diced aubergine to the meat sauce for the lasagna (yep.. weird choice for Christmas, but we've done the other obvious things for years and besides and my mum makes amazing lasagna, my guests are still talking about it a year later!) And I added lots of bread crumbs to the kofte. We also had a Pesto turkey salad which I preferred rather than chicken as I believe they are less intensively reared here. The rest of the menu was basically vegetarian or vegan.
10. Set example by:
- making the gifts for the children.
- I filled little jars with my homemade Choc&Nut Stuff (chocolate hazelnut spread) as gifts to inspire others to avoid buying the nasty stuff with palm oil in it.
- I made some very simple yet happiness inducing decorations. This year the branch tree has been bought inside from its summer position with blue beads and shells and has transitioned to the winter mode with fairy lights again and this time I added the feathers from a nightjar whose cold body I had found in our garden last spring. His feathers, I believe, may bring some of the precious outdoors into our home, lest we forget our origins and our connection to all that is wild and wonderful.
The tradition of a feast at Solstice is one that resonates with our instincts, to me it seems that it's a good time to try realign with those instincts and remember that even a feast is not a time to over indulge while others go without so I'm trying to maintain a sence of responsibility while I share with my friends family and beyond.
Whatever your beliefs and affiliations I wish you, yours and all a truly peaceful and prosperous time. May the turn of the sun in our winter sky bring about a beautiful and positive turn in the attitudes of humankind. May we remember our potential and reconnect with our amazing planet.
As a New Year resolution you might want to consider writing your own Manifesto for One. The New Moon on January the 6th is said to be a very auspicious time to set goals and define our dreams and wishes.
Ideas for upcoming feasts that combine Connection with Compassion.
Eat for Equity is a fabulous idea that is fun, community building and feeding people while also raising money for worthy causes and organisations. I'm inspired to combine this idea with the Connected Conversations Dinners that I have started hosting here in Istanbul (we hosted the first last week).
The road to Zero Waste is a bumpy one and no one is perfect, I use many natural homemade and zero packaging products at home such as deodorant, shampoo and cleaning fluids, I make most food from scratch and am determined to avoid plastic packaging even if it means going thirsty when I've forgotten my own bottle. Yet sometimes I struggle to solve every packaging issue, these days I'm buying milk and yogurt from the store (rather than making myself as I needed a break from that) and I still have a large roll of cling film in my house. I used it during the sushi making process and to separate layers of the raw handmade kofte. I thought that by this year the roll would be finished, but I haven't been able to touch the stuff since I've developed an understanding as to the damage single use plastic does to our planet, so it sits in its box and instead I use everything from plates upon bowls to containers with lids and jars and other ways to do the cling film jobs. If I make sushi again I might use non bleached baking parchment (which can compost) to do the rolling job. I continue to experiment, but one thing is for sure; I am never complacent about what I buy or use any more.