Gather round friends! Let me tell you about something that happened this weekend that was amazing and accidentally Zero Waste!
We all have that one friend (in some cases, many more) who has the exact same views as you and who’s passion is absolutely encouraging! No? Don’t have at least one? Please find one! You’ll thank me later!
So my eco-est friend’s name is Sonia and she’s absolutely epic in her homesteading. I have learned so much from her and continue to do so with every visit. I met her several years ago when I started at my old company. Despite having that company shut down and have both moved on to new professions, we still make an effort to stay in touch.
This weekend, she had hosted a corn roast as a way to reunite with a few of our old coworkers. All in all, the day was incredible. It was so nice seeing everyone again and catching up over delicious food and tasty drinks! The weather was better than it had announced and everyone left with a feeling of satisfaction with the joy of having spent a wonderful day together. At the start, I don’t think Sonia had anticipated for it to be close to no waste, but that’s what ended up happening. With every turn, there was some form of small challenge that we either surmounted together or she ALREADY had a solution!
Here’s how our challenges broke down:
Food: Sonia had made appetizers and deserts using veggies from her garden. We had kale chips galore! And she even treated us to a delicious vegan zucchini bread.
The event was also a potluck, so everyone brought a dish to share or their own food. With all the different diets, it was easiest this way instead of trying to accommodate for everyone’s personal preferences. I had made a lovely bean salad (see here for recipe) that was completely Zero Waste! I even used some of the cucumbers that grew in my urban garden. They were so good!
For the main event, a friend had stopped at a local farm on her way over and bough a GIANT bag of corn for everyone. I believe the bag itself was recyclable and none of the corn went to waste! Legit, no waste from the corn at all! Between everyone chowing down on 40 + corn cobs and us cooking ALL OF 60 STALKS and using everything to the last kernel by cutting off the corn on the leftovers and using them in future meals (or just freezing them), everything was used! The corn husks were added to her compost heap out past her garden and her chickens got to enjoy a large pile of empty corn cobs as a treat. In reality, I’m sure it was about 2-3 days worth of treats for them. We even saved some of the water that the corn was cooked in and she’s going to be making soups with it as her broth. I thought this was GENIUS! It’s basically a veggie stalk, so WHY NOT!? After she got 3 large jars worth of broth, we took the leftover water, put it in a canister (waited a bit for it to cool down) and drenched her plants. She lives on an acre of land and loves plants, so there were plenty of flowers, veggies and fruits that were happy to receive a nutrient rich watering.
Dinnerware: She has this set of plastic plates… I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. These plates have been used for parties for years now. She has about 20 for such occasions. Yes, one day they will wear down and probably won’t be able to be fully recycled; but if you keep them in good condition, they can be reused quite a few times. We had also used her regular forks and spoons as well as serving utensils. Along with these, our glasses and mugs were her every day mugs and she even busted out some cloth napkins!
Borrowed items: Instead of going out and buying something to cover us in case of rain, she had borrowed a covering tent (with a mosquito net from her parents). They also had lent her the super large pot and base to cook the corn. So nothing was bought for this occasion. We used her picnic table as a serving/eating table and some of us even brought extra chairs just in case there weren’t enough. There was really nothing in terms of setting that wasn’t planned on being used again for years.
So yep, an amazing day overall that was about 95% Zero Waste (there were a few recyclable items that were brought from the guests’ potluck dishes) and it wasn’t even planned to be! It’s amazing what can happen when things become second nature. Personally, for years before I started this journey, I used to buy plastic plates, cutlery, cups, decorations and party favors. It’s crazy to think of all the waste I used to contribute without even acknowledging/realising it. I look back sometimes and am shocked at what I used to buy with the intentions of throwing it away afterwards. Now I see these things as silly and unnecessary. Why would I want to spend money on something I’m literally going to get rid of? Put aside for a second the waste that amounts with parties like this… Think of the money! I used to budget about 30$ per party in crap that was not needed. It adds up quickly, especially if you really enjoy hosting such events. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m content now not wasting my money on single use items. I’m also extremely happy that I no longer contribute to our culture’s waste epidemic! IT’s really a big win all around!
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