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socializing the low waste way

Photo by Priscilla de Preez 

Author: Irania Ledesma 

You were invited to your friend’s birthday party. You get there and the table is covered with delicious finger food. In the corner of the table, you spot a stack of disposable plates, cups, napkins and cutlery. What’s a sustainable, low-waster to do? Bare Market blogger Irania has some tips on how to socialize without the waste.


Being social can sometimes mean exposure to single-use items. That’s just life. We live in an imperfect, plastic-filled world.

Paper or plastic cups, plates and cutlery are convenient and as cheap as you want them to be. Before I decided to further my commitment to living low waste, I would for sure ignore the amount of waste I was creating  at social events and dig into the food and drinks using the paper or plastics they were served with. Eek! That was until a couple of months ago, when I decided to start bringing my own utensils to social gatherings and even work events.

Photo by Jenifer Pallian 


Sure, it was awkward at the beginning. I felt a little embarrassed to take my reusable plate or wine glass out of my purse. I guess I felt a little ashamed and assumed people would perceive me as high maintenance, or judgmental. But over time it got easier.

So yes, I am the weirdo with the reusable plate at birthday parties and I’m totally ok with it. The best part is, bringing my own utensils to social events sparks conversations and inspires others to think about the waste that’s created.

Hosting a party

If you are the one hosting an event you obviously have more control over the waste that’s produced. Using your own dinnerware, cutlery and napkins is the most sustainable option. I haven’t hosted a big party in a while, but I think the next time I do, I’ll ask my guests to bring their own reusables. Kind of like a “zero waste” themed party! All my friends and family know about my low-waste lifestyle, so I’m sure they’d be happy to support it.

In terms of decorations there are so many fun and pretty options to choose from, involving as little or as much creativity as you want. I have even made banners out of old birthday or Christmas cards. They are so colorful and they’re pretty easy to make. Popcorn strings are cute too! All you need is bulk kernels (to make your own popcorn), thread and a needle. You could also use house plants or mason jars with some foraged greenery or flowers as centerpieces.

There are lots of creative ways to get around single-use party items. The key is to plan, be prepared, and do it a few times to make it a habit. And to not be worried about how others might perceive you - you might feel like a weirdo at first, but just remember, you could be inspiring others to make their own positive changes.

About the author: Irania Ledesma is a novice zero/low waste blogger born in Mexico City. Her interest in a low waste lifestyle began a few years ago when she downsized from a 4 bedroom home to a two bedroom apartment. Since then, she has adopted a minimalist and low waste lifestyle. She and her partner recently started documenting their journey on their zero waste blog, Wastelandia.

Irania has lived in Ontario since 2003. She works in healthcare and volunteers for the dog rescue organization Backstreet Dogs Mexico.

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