It’s always fun having friends and family over. You get to catch up and spend quality time with people you might not always have a chance to see. But being the host(ess) with the most(est) comes with its fair share of frustrations, especially if you’re a dedicated eco-warrior and your guests are not.
We covered zero-waste dinner parties a few weeks ago, and since we’re in the thick of the festive season, sharing tips and tricks on continuing to successfully run an environmentally responsible home when you have houseguests seems like a good idea. Here’s how we do it:
GET EVERYONE ON BOARD
It wouldn’t be fair to expect that just because you live a green lifestyle, everybody does too. It wouldn’t be fair, either, to assume that your overnight visitors know all your house rules about reducing, reusing and recycling.
Whether you sit your guests down the night they arrive or send them a comprehensive email a week before their visit, you need to let your guests know how you run your household and how you would like for them to play their part. It is as much your responsibility to clue them up as it is theirs to honour your house rules.
Don’t expect them to get it all right all the time either, even if they run an eco-friendly house themselves – their systems might be different to yours. It might help you to leave fun notes around the house about keeping showers short and only washing a full sink of dishes. Since it’s Christmas time, this a great opportunity to get punny with your friendly reminders.
DON’T AKE SHORTCUTS
More mouths to feed = more admin. Not only are you going to have to cater for your guest, but clean-up after every meal is going to be laborious too. Fight the urge to order take out. Yes, calling it in means you’ll spend less time poured over the stove – so you’ll have more time and energy to entertain – but eating out of polystyrene dishes with plastic cutlery makes your stress-free dinner the earth problem for decades. Besides, food is a labour of love. Making the effort to feed your guests with fresh ingredients you’ve prepared will show them how much you appreciate them.
KEEP IT IN-HOUSE
Travellers forget things all the time. Whether they don’t remember to grab their toothbrush from the bathroom cabinet or didn’t think they’d need a razor – they often arrive having left something semi-essential behind. Stock up on biodegradable shampoo and cruelty-free body lotion so you know your houseguests aren’t running to the store getting the wrong products. It’s an easy way to educate your visiting loved-ones on some of the best sustainable products on the market. If they love the homemade body mist they used because they left their perfume at home, or ask you where you buy your eco-friendly earbuds, you’re slowly converting people to adopt a responsible lifestyle.
ZERO WASTE DECORATIONS
Synthetic Christmas trees might be sparing our forests, but the discarded seasonal decorations pollute the planet. If you want to maintain tradition, there are a number of creatives making Christmas trees from reclaimed wood and upcycled materials. Dress the rest of your house up with eco-friendly accessories like Himalayan salt lamps, which are great for ambience and have a number of great benefits. Spray painted pine cones are also lovely natural decorations that can be used year after year.
On afternoons when you have nothing planned, turn the TV off and put the laptops away. A spirited game of cards with a pitcher of Sangria will be great fun. If your guests are busybodies or are visiting with their little ones, a trip to the beach, a hike, or even a picnic at your local botanical garden will be a great alternative to racking up a high electricity bill sitting indoors. If you have a veggie patch or a potager growing at home, you can have your visitors get their hands dirty with you, cultivating the fresh produce you feed them with every day.
Though we certainly are passionate about reducing waste and preserving energy in all its natural forms, we don’t know everything. That’s where you come in. Share the festive cheer by giving us some of your hacks to eco-friendly hosting in the comment section below.
MORE READING ON BEING A ZERO-WASTE GURU: