Summer is full of celebrations. With warmer weather comes a desire to gather and celebrate just about anything. Labor Day marks the end of the season, but also is a great excuse for one last "hoorah" before the days get shorter and the weather gets chillier.
Whether you're traveling for the long weekend or are hosting a simple get-together with your family and friends, keeping a few things in mind will help you reduce waste and not add to the food waste and pollution that inevitably occurs over the holiday. According to Food Tank, 11 million pounds of food is wasted in New York City alone over the three-day weekend. That excludes other waste from things like plastic and, of course, the rest of the country as well.
Luckily, not contributing to these staggering numbers is simple, with a little bit of forethought and commitment. Use these eight tips to "green up" your Labor Day celebration:
1. Skip the Single Use Plastics
One of the simplest ways to reduce your waste over the long weekend is to commit to avoiding single-use plastics. Whether you're throwing a party or heading out of town, plan to use reusable cups, water bottles, and coffee cups. Use eco-friendly food wraps or glass containers to store food, and, if possible, bring dishes to wash once the party is over.
If bringing reusable dishes isn't an option, opt for compostable or recyclable dishware and volunteer to make sure it's all recycled properly.
2. Gather Outside
If weather permits, save energy and soak up the last bit of summertime vitamin D by hosting your gatherings outside. Rent a space in a local park or throw a backyard BBQ to keep things close to home.
3. Meal Plan In Advance
Most wasteful-blunders are made in a hurry, when you haven't planned ahead. Instead of rushing to the store for a to-go platter of veggies, think ahead of time what you can make at home. This way, your dish will seem even more thoughtful and won't add to the waste.
4. Shop Local
Embrace the local Farmers Market for the last few weeks of the season and buy your food locally and organically. Not only does this support your local economy, but it is a healthier and more eco-friendly alternative to most store-bought food.
5. Skip the Invitations
If you're hosting a get-together, skip the post office and send e-invites to your guests. It's cheaper, more eco-friendly and, let's face it, snail mail isn't as efficient as it used to be.
6. Shop in Bulk
7. Turn to Nature for Decor
The end of the summer is the perfect time to scout the outdoors for foliage, wildflowers, or maybe even a few changing leaves to decorate your event. Skip the party section, which is full of plastics, and opt for something even more classy and beautiful (oh, and free).
If you're traveling for the weekend, reduce emissions and save on gas by traveling with a buddy or another family. You'll still get to wherever you're going, and have good company along the way.