Sydney celebrates New Year’s Eve in style with more than a million spectators partying the night away on its famous foreshore and spectacular fireworks displays watched by billions across the globe. But the morning after isn’t so pretty.
Starting at sunrise, the after-party council clean-ups collect nearly 66 tonnes (that’s 58,000 kg) of rubbish every New Year’s Eve at the cost of $290,000. It’s mostly plastic bottles and food containers and, while 90 per cent of this waste is recycled, the sea of garbage is a shocking reminder of the enormous impact events like this have on the environment.
And it’s not just the big cities that get hit by a mountain of rubbish as we bring in a New Year.
Beaches, campsites, festivals and parks can all be left looking like a garbage apocalypse on the 1st of January.
Whether you’re hosting a party at your place, heading out for a picnic or joining the madding crowds, you can make a difference in 2018. Here’s how you can massively reduce your plastic footprint and have a truly great party...
- Consider using recycled paper party invitations or email e-vites so guests can rsvp electronically.
- Try Asian-style paper lanterns to make gorgeous decorations. Use fabric bunting, tablecloths and fairy lights to set the mood instead of paper streamers that will end up in the bin.
- Finger food is perfect for parties and easy to eat without the need of utensils. Think wraps and roll-ups, kebabs threaded with metal skewers and vegetable sticks with dips.
- Provide plates that can be washed and put away - not paper plates.
- Banana leaves can make great serving platters.
- Offer beverages served in glass containers, such as sparking water, beer, soda and cider. Use real wine glasses from op shops or hire them instead of providing plastic party cups.
- Drink coolers can be made by putting ice in a garden fountain, wheel barrow or buckets instead of plastic garbage bins.
- Invest in reusable stainless steel water bottles or travel mugs and fill them up with filtered tap water before leaving home and wherever you have access to a fresh water source.
- Pack a picnic basket with reusable plates, cutlery, steel food containers, cups or glasses and fabric napkins.
- Paper plates and napkins can’t be recycled once they’re contaminated with food. Look for a set of recyclable melamine plates. They’re cute and light to carry with you.
- Choose recyclable bamboo utensil sets or BYO stainless steel utensils from home.
- Some take-away food outlets allow you to use your own food containers instead of their disposable ones – so go prepared.
- Think outside the box when it comes to wrapping food. Glass jars are great for individual salads and lightweight eco food containers are inexpensive handy options.
- Craving ice cream? Pick the one that comes in a cone instead of a plastic-lined tub.
- Choose beverages that come in glass bottles rather than plastic ones. Buy wine in bottles with natural cork stoppers. Boxes of flavoured milk are coated inside and out with plastic, not wax. It’s better to buy milk in glass bottles with a plastic lid than buy milk that comes entirely in plastic or plastic-coated boxes.
- Drinks can double as ice packs if you freeze them ahead and use them to keep picnic foods cold.
- Carry everything in reusable cloth bags and avoid buying plastic ones.
- If you eat out – try and choose the option with the least packaging.
- Take your rubbish home, or put it in a bin that’s not already overflowing.
Have a wonderful New Year and why not try for a plastic free 2018!