Five ways to green your holiday party

Tired of waking up with an environmental hangover every time you throw a holiday party?[rssbreak] All those plastic cups, all that.


Tired of waking up with an environmental hangover every time you throw a holiday party?[rssbreak]

All those plastic cups, all that imported booze, all those puddles of paraffin ruining your coffee table. If your friends aren’t amenable to a straight-up eco-themed party, just slip some earth-friendly goodness into their cocktails when they’re not looking. How? Try implementing this trusty five-step plan.

1. DECK YOUR HALLS ECO-STYLE

First things first – you need to set the mood without bringing in bad karma. All those plastic wreaths and trees made of PVC give off lead dust and literally come with warning labels in the state of Cali.

Importing tree boughs from Peru or Italy doesn’t make much sense either. DIY twigs and fallen pine cones should do the trick. Though real holiday trees come from farmed sources, they’re sometimes sprayed with chemical rodenticides, so ask around for unsprayed fir, pine or spruce or get a potted indoor Norfolk Island pine.

Keep your home (or your menorah) aglow with beeswax instead of typical benzene-, formaldehyde- and soot-emitting petroleum candles. Or get strung out on energy-saving LED lights.

2. BRING ON THE GREEN BOOZE

No ghastly food colouring necessary here – just make sure your libations are of the more ecologically enlightened variety wherever possible. I recently snagged a 750 ml bottle of Juniper Green Organic Gin for $25 (cheaper than Bombay or Tanqueray). You can also track down 360 Eco Luxury Vodka for a similar tab, and pricier Square One Organic vodka’s at lcbo.com.

As for wine, you’ll want to showcase genuine local talents (labelled VQA) over that imported cellared-in-Ontario crap. Some of my fave local wines are crafted by Malivoire (made from mostly certified and some uncertified organic grapes $14.95 and up) and Southbrook (biodynamic).

If you’re really cash-crunched, Fuzion is one of the best-priced organic wines in stores (just $12.95 at the LCBO), but it’s Argentinian, not local.

3. DITCH DISPOSABLES

Maybe you don’t have enough glasses for all your guests, or you’re just too lazy to wash dishes at the end of the night, but you obviously can’t have a green party with styrofoam plates and single-use plastic cups.

If you’re throwing a proper dinner for a roomful of peeps, you can always rent dishes/glassware/cutlery for a decent price. Or check out the unbreakable dishwasher-proof tableware from Preserve, made from recycled yogurt cups.

Home Depot carries the 10-packs of plates made from recycled materials. If you need a mega-stack of cups in a hurry, you can always order a 50-pack of Greenshift’s biodegradable cups from Grassroots for about $12.

4. BE A SECOND-HAND SANTA

Call us cold-hearted pragmatists, but luckily, my siblings gave up on gift swaps in favour of good old-fashioned hanging out time years ago. If your circle demands some sort of ribbon-tied interchange, consider a re-gift exchange.

Scour your cupboards and closets for gifts from years past that you never even cracked, wrap them up in the funny pages, old maps, cloth remnants and recycled gift bags and call yourselves the greenest Santas ever.

5. APPETIZE IN SEASON

Forget shrimp rings that involve trawling the oceans bare, or pollutingly farmed smoked salmon plates, and Jesus Murphy, definitely no foie gras from force-fed ducks.

Instead, build a local cheese plate with organic crackers and a side of organic apple and pear slices. Do up a roasted squash dip. Pick up a copy of a seasonally enlightened cookbook like Earth To Table: Seasonal Recipes From An Organic Farm for ideas, or browse the Net for locavore recipes like the ones at seasonalontariofood.blogspot.com.

ecoholic@nowtoronto.com

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