Zero Waste

A 60th Single Use Plastic Free Party Event

For my mom’s 60th party my immediate go to theme was as single use plastic free as possible and try send little to nothing to the rubbish truck.


We didn’t want to confuse the guests too much when it came to what to bring to eat or drink and what to gift, as a lot of them didn’t know that I am on a journey to minimalism and becoming plastic free.

Despite my efforts, guests brought in things such as crisps and dips in plastic and there was packaged braai meat.

What I was hoping for was to show guests at the party all the nifty ways, and that it can be very easy, to throw a party without single use items; a party that wasn’t even thrown at home but at a venue!

My family has always found me odd and we all joke and jab each other in some way or form… Oupa the grump, Nanna the deaf one and candy thief, Colette on some or other hippy mission…

Joburg has been blessed with an abundance of rain of late but when you’ve planned a 60th at a Waterpark the rain is not such a blessing!

God blessed us all amazingly though as the Swim School Toby, my nephew goes to, graciously (and spur of the moment – like literally 2 hours before setup time) gave us their entire, indoor facilities to use all day!

As people arrived at the party I became known as the “Waste Gestapo”.
I had set up three “stations” – Recycling, Eco Brick, and Food Waste.
As guests arrived I quickly explained where the “bar” was, the “gifts”, the “salads and rolls” and the “dish up” section. I also explained to people where to throw various things away.
There were big written signs by the bags…
What I am coming to realise with the old folk is that change is either laughed at or it’s too difficult to comprehend so my gran just threw her bones in the Ecobrick bag. I had to call the person to task because if one person sees something they’ll all copy and I seriously didn’t want to sift out food waste from my Ecobrick stuff. Nanna was also the only one who brought tissues and serviettes into the party and I told her to take her dirty tissues home.
I know I need to be gentler on her and people in general when it comes to their ignorance.

I was graciously lent stunning black and white reusable plates from a friend and black cloth napkins from the LACE stock.
Lisa and I took along our own cutlery and glasses and I brought along most of my jars from home to add to decor.
Protea bunches are in season at the moment so I used some flowers as decor which my mom could then take home afterwards.
I got sour worm and rainbow candy, in bulk, in my fresh bags, from Fruit and Veg Parkmeadows.
I ended up spending more on candy than I’d anticipated. If I didn’t have so much on my to do list as it is – one of the things I do want to eventually accomplish is emailing and sitting on corporations such as Fruit and Veg and Pick n Pay, about discounting customers for products where we aren’t using their packaging. I shop just about 100% of the time with my own containers and yet I’m not actually getting price cuts – this is happening with fresh sandwiches I’ve been buying or takeaway coffees and fresh produce.
Amazingly no one used the paper straws that were out – I guess everyone was drinking out of bottles. And, about 4 people used the cloth napkins! Isn’t that bizarre? I imagine if I’d laid out serviettes I would have had a lot of them to try and get rid of.

Another thing that amazed me was the food waste – from 20 people there was literally a handful I tossed into the compost bin when I got home!

Sadly, the men were braaiing outside and they went and threw away the packaging that everyone had brought their meat in instead of bringing it to me to set into the Ecobrick pile for cleaning up.

Waste Free Food Service

We popped the bag of recycling, food waste and Ecobrick goods into our cars, I popped dirty dishes and cutlery into a Tupperware container Lisa had and everything was cleaned up in no time.
The party defo got people talking and more aware about single use items – everyone thinks paper plates are paper and can be recycled but they don’t know that they can’t with all the food and oils on them – they’d need to be cut up and composted, but no one I know goes and takes home a bunch of used paper plates… and if they’re just regular plain white ones.

All in all nothing my side that I brought home has gone to the rubbish truck.
The black bin bags that I brought everything home in are going to be used for the next river clean up – which is probably going to be this weekend as the flash floods have wrecked havoc on our river once again.

Despite the lead up to the event being fraught with emotion and external family drama, the rain and venue change, we were truly blessed.
It was a time spent with close and meaningful family surrounding my mom with the love she deserves on her 60th birthday!

Thank you to Vorn’s Lifeguard’s Swim School for the venue and the two lifeguards that played with the kiddos.
My Aunty Allison who spurred my sister and I on to throw a do for my mom and her lovely salad.
My sister and brother in law who got us the venue, catered the drinks, salads and brought half their home (braai and kitchen) along to the venue!

Thanks to Vorn’s Lifeguards in Olivedale for hosting us at such short notice! A great swimming school if you’re in the area.

Until next time…

waste less • refuse more

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