Take a look around at the aftermath of any barbecue, festival, children’s party or just dinner with friends and the sheer amount of debris that’s left over is always a shock. Here, we’ve put together some simple ideas for reducing waste and making sustainable choices so that your next gathering has less of an impact on the planet.
Swap fresh flowers for silk ones
If you're entertaining at home, an easy way to give your place a lift is to fill it with beautiful, fresh-cut flowers, but the downside is that they usually have a significant carbon footprint and are pesticide heavy. If your blooms come from overseas, the transport and refrigeration alone require a huge amount of energy, plus they have a relatively short shelf life.
But fear not, there is a gorgeous, long-term solution – head to Amaranthine Blooms, where you can find a meadow of silk imitation blooms. Founded by former equity analyst Janey Dillon after she spotted a gap in the market for luxury imitation flowers, the Hong Kong firm now has orders from all over the world. ”Each flower is handmade and handpainted. They are made from a range of materials and fabrics as we choose the right one for the type of flower we are imitating so that it can be as realistic as possible,” Dillon explains.
Amaranthine Blooms offer ready-made arrangements, as well as darling individual stems, so they are an ideal choice for everything from weddings and special birthdays to dinner parties at home.
Say no to plastic plates – try bamboo
Whether it’s for children’s parties or barbecues on the beach, we all need to rethink our throwaway attitude to crockery. Plastic plates – including the paper ones coated in plastic – are a disaster for the planet and totally unnecessary.
If you’re searching for something sleek but sustainable, look no further than Bamboa Home, which showcases a range of products made from ethically sourced bamboo. Their stylish homeware and crockery will have you rethinking your kitchen, and for summer events, their Fibra collection is ideal. Brightly coloured, durable but incredibly light, the Fibra collection is the perfect alternative to disposable cups and plates as they stack together neatly for easy transport and have natural antibacterial properties. And for those who really don’t want to wash up – they biodegrade in around two months (but, seriously, these sets are worth keeping).
”I'm passionate about sustainability and the environment,“ says Bamboa founder Julia Washbourne. ”I discovered the incredible benefits and properties of bamboo, which is the fastest-growing plant on the planet and, at the same time, can provide thousands of rural communities with a livelihood.“
Head over to their gorgeous shop at PMQ in the heart of Central to browse all their beautiful bamboo products – these guys sell everything from towels and sheets to decking.
Snap up bargain dishes, curb food waste
This social enterprise wants to make sure you do your bit to protect the planet, but it also helps you to save $$$. If you’re hosting a girlie night or are just looking for dessert, check out the site for the best last-minute deals.
They work with gourmet cheese sellers such as La Cabane a Vin and Monsieur Chatté to get customers amazing discounts on popular cheeses at as much as 50 per cent off – and sometimes more. In fact, it’s become something of an open secret for the city’s dinner party hosts to pick up treats for the night’s cheese plates through Food Savior. Commissary also does a huge discount on their lush patisserie: you can pick up yummy muffins, buns, biscuits and cakes for under $20 on your way home, which are easily brought back to their best with just a little burst in the oven.
What’s great is that consumers get bargains, restaurants get a second chance to sell great food and less waste needlessly ends up in landfills. Green living never tasted so good!
Ditch the straws or get re-usable ones
”The little plastic sip straw you had last night in your gin and tonic will still be here in a few hundred years time, long after you’re gone!“ A sobering thought from the guys at The Last Straw, a campaign to rid the world of single-use plastic straws. Let’s face it – we humans managed perfectly well without straws for much of history, and yet today in the USA alone some 500 million are used daily and then discarded. They litter landfills and clog up our parks, beaches and oceans, causing untold damage to wildlife.
It’s time to choose a better way. If you must use straws, there are plenty of sustainable options, The Last Straw team have options made from pulped paper, Bamboa Home has lovely bamboo ones, whilst Plastic-Free HK has stainless-steel options – all at bargain prices. But don’t just buy them – encourage your local bars and restaurants to make the switch too. If you’re feeling motivated now, Foodie’s shop has a whole range of options, so get shopping now!
Bring your own bottles and boxes
This amazing little shop founded by the indomitable Lisa Odell has a vast array of sustainable options if you’re entertaining at home or out and about. There’s no point heading off to enjoy the rich wonders of Hong Kong’s natural world if you’re leaving a trail of plastic and trash in your wake, but simple switches can make all the difference.
We love Plastic-Free HK’s tiffin-style stainless-steel lunchboxes for picnics or days out at the beach, but Lisa also sells re-usable coffee cups and water bottles – a must for the city’s eco-conscious. Pura brand bottles are great for the more active, and she also sells the super-stylish S’well bottles that are an Instagrammers dream.
Her online shops stocks brilliant packs of beeswax wrap that you can use in place of cling film or tinfoil, steel storage tins, plus adorable lunch and produce bags to carry your culinary swag. Lisa says, ”I was looking for ways to live a more sustainable life and leave less waste in my wake. I realised others were wanting the same thing but didn’t have access to the right resources. It was then that PFHK was born.“
Opt for party favours that don’t pollute
It’s easy to fill kids‘ party bags with plastic tat that thrills for a few minutes before being discarded on the way home. But a better option is to choose more meaningful favours – this could be anything from seed packets for the little ones to grow their own blooms or veg to these lush engraved key rings from the delightful shop Little Days. Owner Cheline Sun has come up with an array of unusual gifts, and she also stocks beautiful decor for a gorgeous, sustainable alternative to balloons. Shop for darling bunting, adorable lanterns and even garlands of cherries, clouds or vehicles, which can be used year after year and for multiple occasions.