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Tips For Greening Your Holiday Parties And Celebrations

holiday placesettings on a dinner table

holiday table

Photo: tkellyphoto (flickr)

The holiday season is upon us and as you start planning your holiday parties, Earth Eats thought it might be helpful to round up some tips to help keep your parties green this year.

A Scientific Take

Scientists at Ryerson University in Toronto assembled a list of 15 ways people can green up their holiday season – like using LED lights for displays and taking the time to sort through recyclables after a party.

Although there is some debate about which is really greener: real or artificial Christmas trees.

They also recommend giving experience presents - like theater or concert tickets - instead of something that will just end up in the back of the closet or in the landfill.

Green Party Planners

We wanted to know more about how to make the holidays more environmentally friendly, so we talked to a couple of experts.

Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are the mother daughter team behind Celebrate Green, a company that helps people green up their special occasions.

Corey says that the pair likes to put the meaning in the greening, "So not just the sustainability issues, but finding a way to really put people first."

One of the most wasteful party practices is the use of disposable plates. Last Thanksgiving, Corey hosted a dinner and came up short for place settings. While she highly recommends renting things like place settings for those situations, she came up with a way to make it more meaningful.

"We asked each guest to bring a place setting," Corey said, "and along with their place setting we asked them to bring a story behind the place setting. So that as people ate their Thanksgiving dinner we also got to share in the stories behind them."

Green Your Holiday Decor

Holiday and party décor is another big waste-maker. Lynn says she likes to look for things she already has to decorate her home more sustainably.

"What we do is pick a theme," she said, "say you are doing red and green for Christmas. Go on a hunt through the house. See what you can find. What do you already have that is red and green, rather than feel like you have to go out and purchase something."

Lynn recommends branches and outdoor plants for centerpieces and wreaths, or even artfully arranging baskets and cooking pots. They also talked about what they call "edible décor". You can take fresh produce like apples, gourds, and pineapples, core out the center and place candles or flowers inside.

Corey even likes to use hollow pumpkins to serve soup. "When the celebration is done," she saidm "These things can be eaten or composted. So it's a zero waste way to bring the outdoors in, to support local farmers, and just to create less waste."

Learn More: Lynn and Corey keep a blog of their tips on their website.

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