I was visiting a lovely family friend when I was on a recent trip to Melbourne, and she held a dinner party for our visit. This lovely family friend is not Zero Waste, but the dinner party that she threw reminded us that the things we call “Zero Waste” were actually just normal practices a couple of generations ago. Here are 4 things your grandparents did when they hosted a dinner party that we now call “Zero Waste”.
- Cloth Napkins – I know that in some parts of the world, cloth napkins are still common practice, but here, in Australia, paper napkins have become the norm. Paper napkins would have been an unthinkable practice a few generations ago, because the very concept that you would purchase something to use once and throw away was unheard of. Why not ask your grandparents if they have a set of cloth napkins that you can use at your next dinner party.
- Using real plates – I know we now live in a society of convenience, but using paper plates would also have been unthinkable 50 or 60 years ago. The thought that we would use something lesser than for our guests would have been seen as rude. When my grandparents had guests, that’s when they would bring out the fancy china or expensive dinner set, to show their guests how much their visit meant. Now, while I’m not saying we should go out and buy a fancy dinner set for our guests if you already have one, this is certainly the time to use it. If not, your regular dishes will be just fine.
- Pre-made food – While making their own bread or yogurt had well and truly been outsourced by the time my grandparents were hosting dinner parties, things were still pretty homemade at this time. There were no store-bought, pre-cooked roast chicken, or a ready-made lasagne, as making these things for your guests was seen as a labor of love. If we can make our own food where possible, we are certainly cutting down on cost and packaging, and our guests will be truly impressed.
- Wasting food – we have all been guilty of leaving food out too long and having to throw it away, but this is so avoidable. In a time where food was more costly and precious, once people were done eating, this food would be swiftly packed up to preserve it. We can certainly learn from this today.
I am so ready to host my next Zero Waste dinner party – are you? I am excited to hear any Zero Waste tips you have inherited from your family – so comment below!