Hosting a holiday party is a festive season rite of passage, but the hangover often looks a little different for you compared to your guests. Yes, you might both feel a little tender. But post-shindig, you’re the one cleaning up sticky spills, dirty floors and abandoned drinks and trying to figure out what to do with the mountain of leftover food.
No matter how well you prepped for this – including checking in on our advice for hosting a holiday party without trashing the planet (or your home) – it’s still important to be mindful of how you finish the party off. In both the UK and Australia we create 30 per cent more waste during the festive period. A lot of that comes down to what we send to landfill.
So, how do you clean up after a party without the excess waste and environmental impact? Follow these easy steps for an easy and fast zero-waste clean-up.
After you’ve tackled the basic tidying, AKA replaced the lampshade someone tried to wear as a hat, it’s time to take on the serious grime.
Cleaning solutions with natural ingredients and limited chemical compounds are best for removing footprints on carpet and evidence of spilt beverages around the house. Zero Co and The Dirt Company have a range of multi-purpose cleaners and stain removers available in refillable bottles that can stay out of the trash heap. Ethique also has a great range of household concentrates (bars that turn to liquid with hot water) that can help you cut down on single-use plastics in the cleaning cupboard.
If by some miracle there are no leftovers at all, we salute you. But in most cases, there will be at least a few plates of uneaten food in the fridge.
Of course, the best (and most obvious) option is to eat the food. There are a ton of simple food hacks you can use to make great meals from your leftovers. If you specifically have miscellaneous vegetable scraps – leek greens, cabbage cores, green onion tops, carrot tops, zucchini and squash ends, broccoli stalks, ugly potato pieces, etc. – freeze them and use them to make vegetable stock. It’s easier than it sounds, just follow the instructions here.
For any food waste you can’t eat in one form or another, make sure to compost it. If you’re a beginner in this area try a Bokashi One Bucket. It’s less messy and good for small spaces. If that’s still too intimidating, download the ShareWaste app which will connect you with someone in your area with an established compost set-up who you can offload your scraps to without any hassle. If you live in an area with a green waste bin service, make sure any guests helping with the clean-up know where to scrape the plates.
In Australia, 15,000 bottles and cans are thrown away every single minute. But there are pretty appealing ways of avoiding adding to that figure. If you’re based in Australia, you can get paid to recycle all of your empty beers, ciders and canned drinks that have a 10c mark on them (sorry, no wine bottles). Envirobank offers a pay-back scheme that will help you reduce your environmental footprint and reward you at the same time (there have got to be some benefits of hosting, right?).
To make it easier on yourself, before your event put out cardboard or reusable boxes labelled “recycled drinks” so people know where to put their empties.
There’s always one. Maybe it was a case of red wine, your cousin Alice and the white fabric couch cover. Or a soft berry pavlova, a little kid and your favourite cocktail dress. Either way, fabric items such as curtains, furniture and clothes are common party casualties. If you’ve sacrificed something to the party gods, the first option is to cut it up to use as rags for cleaning (handy!).
If you’re all good for cleaning supplies, Upparel is a company that for a small fee will take your clean items (you may have to cut around the stain) and upcycle them into new materials or items. It would also be a great opportunity to rid yourself of any old clothes so they don’t end up in landfill as well.
Between recycling, cleaning stains without single-use plastics and making sure your leftovers don’t head to landfill, you’ll be able to host a party without any environmental guilt this holiday season. Hallelujah.