Hosting eco-friendly dinner parties – or greener gatherings – are perfect opportunities to share and educate your guests on the many ways you are going greener and healthier in your home.
According to Laura Klein, organic living expert and publisher of OrganicAuthority.com, one of the best ways to take control of your health is to reduce exposure to environmental toxins through, not only your food, but also your personal care products, make-up, cleaning and other household products. "It is my feeling that if we can clean up ourselves, our person and our home, it then has a ripple down effect to the environment," says Klein.
A dinner party provides a great opportunity to reevaluate the food you eat as well as your surroundings to make sure you are living healthfully and being eco-friendly. Here are five tips to make over the way you entertain and become the ultimate eco-friendly and healthy hostess.
If you know about Evite.com, then you know that electronic invitations are not only a convenient way to correspond, they are also eco-friendly – e-invitations don't produce excess paper, which means less waste. You can also go a step further by using electronic stationary and send your guests correspondence like invitations, thank you notes and even gifts by email.
Sure, scented candles provide an easy way to create ambience and fragrance, but when black soot collects in the jar, it means not enough oxygen is getting to the flame. According to the American Lung Society of Minnesota, the soot can be just as dangerous as cigarette smoke and some wicks contain lead or lead cores– bad for your lungs and bad for the environment.
Get back to aromatic basics. Fragrant alternatives to scented candles are oranges studded with whole cloves; mulled wine, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves simmered on the stove; or essential oils wafted from a diffuser. You can even make your own natural air freshener by adding a few drops of lemon or orange essential oils and cheap rubbing alcohol to a spray bottle and using it to mist the air. If you really like the candescent look of candlelight, light natural beeswax or soy candles instead.
Festive plastic dinnerware may be easier to clean-up, but it may be risky for your health. Recently, scientists in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine found that Bisphenol BPA, a chemical commonly found in hard plastics (plates, cups and storage containers), has for the first time been linked to female reproductive disorders. Plastics have been found to leak these chemicals into foods after being heated or when serving extremely hot foods.
Klein recommends ditching the "disposables" like paper or plastic plates that are only thrown away and end up in a landfill. "Use your own everyday dinnerware, or, if you must buy disposable plates, look for biodegradable, compostable plates. Earth Shellmakes plates from corn, potatoes and limestone and is 100 percent biodegradable," suggests Klein.
Green home consultant Liza Dunnagrees. "We need to look back 20, 30 or even 50 years ago before the age of convenience," says Dunn. "Not using disposable dinnerware and using real China, napkins and flatware, heightens the experience of dining, and people appreciate the opportunity to use it."
Dunn says that for a children's party, when you may not want to use your regular dinnerware, visit your local thrift store and buy cheap and durable plates. Mix and match with the variety you find, then re-donate the plates if you don't have further use for them.
Nothing says "party" like a well-stocked bar. But the next time you ask your guests to "pick their poison," ironically offer them liquors that are not chock full of calories, chemicals and preservatives. Roll out the organic cocktails. Klein suggests looking for organic vodka like Square One Vodka, Rain Vodka or organic Ocean Vodkafrom Hawaii.
"Mix your drinks with certified organic mixes like organic cocktail Mod Mix or, better yet, get creative and create your own quick-mix with fresh organic Meyer lemons, blood oranges, mint, cucumber and limes," says Klein.
Parting gifts with cutesy trinkets may seem like a nice way to send off your guests, but why not leave your guests with a way to bring greener and sustainable living into their own homes?
Dunn says that party favors such as locally-sourced miniature potted plants or herbs for your guests to plant in their own gardens are a great way to share your eco-friendly values without hitting your guests over the head.
"Even giving local honey tied with a ribbon serves as a much more friendly way of demonstrating eco-friendly habits with your guests," says Dunn. "Or, use fresh flowers from your local florist as centerpieces, and when your guests are on their way out the door, divide the flowers among your friends. Anything local cuts down on our environmental footprint because these products don't have to travel thousands of miles to get here."
Just a few easy steps to make you the eco-friendly hostess with most-est!
For more information on eco-friendly parties and other green gathering ideas, visit these links:
Laura Klein offers newsletters about organic living through her website and will also be launching another service-based website based on her Healthy Home consulting service called www.OrganicAuthority.com. Klein is also working on her very own cleaning line.
For a description of Liza Dunn's services, visit her website or Go Green Expo.
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