How to reduce waste at outdoor parties - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

How to reduce waste at outdoor parties

© Hemera / Thinkstock © Hemera / Thinkstock

By Emily Anderson
From Green Goes Simple

Every year, millions of Americans look forward to enjoying the warm weather with their friends and family. But al fresco entertaining can also lead to an increase in waste.

When you fire up the grill or hop in the pool this year, try giving your outdoor party an easy green makeover. After all, there's no better way to truly enjoy the outdoors than by taking the environment into account! With these simple tips, putting a little eco in your event only ups your summer fun.

Go Vegetarian

It takes 1,916 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Cattle also produce enormous amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that's almost 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

Cutting your meat consumption in half will reduce your eco-impact and help you save money at the same time. Give guests hearty nonmeat alternatives, like portobello mushrooms or vegetarian hot dogs. Even if you serve guests burgers for the first round, it's easy to offer lighter fare for second servings.

Grill Greener

For a nearly instant eco-change, skip the chemical grill cleaners and get a greener -- and tastier -- clean by rubbing an onion on the cooking surface after each grill session.

You can also switch to natural charcoal, which is designed to get hot faster than other products. Plus, the bag itself can be used to light the fire, which means less waste at the end of your event and no need for chemical lighters to get the flame burning bright. Up the green ante by using an eco-friendly grill, which doesn't produce ash or release chemicals into the air.

Activate Fun

By upping the fun factor of your outdoor party, everyone will drink less, eat less and produce a lot less waste. So get your guests moving -- and not just to the beverage cooler. Keep them entertained with games, like badminton, bocce ball and croquet -- even a basketball or Frisbee can get everyone in the mood for play. Be sure you provide plenty of shade from the sun and keep lots of sunscreen on hand.

Serve Healthy Food

Take advantage of fresh summer fruits and vegetables and leave out the processed food, opting instead for real cheeses and whole-grain bread and crackers. Plan ahead, make foods that can be easily stored (again, less waste), and stock up on resealable BPH-free food containers to keep the leftovers fresh.

Reduce Your Trash

Plastic water bottles create a huge amount of unnecessary waste and they're expensive too. Rather than throwing money away on something you can get for free, fill a couple of 10-gallon water coolers and stock up on reusable plastic cups. Skip canned soda; it's loaded with sugar, anyway. Mix up some homemade lemonade or ice tea instead. You'll save your guests some calories -- and yourself some money.

While you're at it, try to avoid using other single-use items, like paper napkins and plates. Instead, buy a dozen washable cotton bandanas -- they're inexpensive and they add a little eco-friendly style to your picnic table. When you do use paper products, look for recycled and recyclable options. Remember, a little change can go a long way!

Emily Anderson
is the author of Eco-chic Home, Eco-chic Weddings and When Changing a Lightbulb Just Isn't Enough. Her work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, The New York Times and her blog,

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