Last week, a small group of my friends and I did something a little bit irrational. We decided to launch a national campaign — in less time than it takes to see three sunrises. It all started when a buddy posted on his Facebook page about April 9th / #ADayWithoutWaste, from the Global Citizen organization. I clicked the link and got fired up about their effort to reduce the ungodly amount of trash our country produces.
Americans generate 25% of earth’s refuse even though we only account for 5% of the global population. A whopping 20% of our meals are eaten in the car, and 50% of our food is transported in to-go containers before we eat. And 1/3 of the food produced on the globe ends up in the garbage.
It was the perfect moment for a huddle. I emailed the founders of Global Citizen and several trusted friends and asked them: Why don’t we create National Dinner Party Day? We all agreed that inspiring thousands of people to host low-waste “green” dinner parties equalled the power to stop a vicious waste stream — and who doesn’t love a beautiful dinner party!?
Within hours we had cut a new film, added to the Global Citizen campaign, and signed up about 20 of our favorite organizations and brands as partners — #dinnerpartyday is now a reality! Join us, it will make your week!
Here are a few ways to make your dinner party glow a deeper color of green.
1. Buy local food.
The average carrot travels over 1,500 miles to get to your standard grocery store. Farmer’s Markets are everywhere in the springtime. The food is, without question, of a better quality than you will find at the nearest grocery store, and most of the time you can shake the hand of the person who grew that gorgeous carrot.
2. Purchase low on the food chain.
I love eating animals, but I do it with less frequency and with a new kind of reverence these days. Quite simply, animals require a lot of energy: It takes up to 13 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of meat. Better idea: eat the grain and the veggies.
3. When selecting your wine, beer or booze, look for biodynamic options.
Growing grapes, hops, or even vodka takes a remarkable amount of water. Bio-dynamic growers tend to use only a small portion of H20 compared to the conventional producers. And you get the added benefit of their other techniques, like planting during a full moon.
4. Buy seasonal ingredients.
It's April and unless you live in sunny LA, it is not the time to buy tomatoes, eggplants or sweet red peppers. Spring greens are sprouting like crazy, asparagus is popping off, morel mushrooms are being gathered in the hills, nettles are literally choking most forest paths! Our friends at foodista.com even curated some spring Farmer’s Market recipes for you! Check them out here.
5. Don’t buy anything you don’t need or won’t use again.
This is not the excuse you were looking for to head to Ikea and fill up a UHaul with endless future firewood. Your friends, like you, you don’t need a new anything for this dinner. If you need to sit on the floor, make it look like that was the plan all along. Light a bunch of candles and play some music from Arabian Nights. If you need to buy anything, listen to my fellow Seattleite, Macklemore, and go to a second-hand store.
6. Compost. Or better yet, eat everything.
Don't make five dishes. Instead choose 2 to 3 recipes and focus on making them delicious. Simplicity is rewarded, your guests want you to focus on them, and not the stove. This strategy will mean you spend less at the farmers market, buy fewer ingredients, and have fewer leftovers.
7. When you're at the dinner table, speak from your heart.
We all yearn for authenticity, and it's contagious. I'm imagining a world where people have 3 to 4 dinner parties a week, gathering with their friends, cooking for each other and sharing our perspectives on the world. Restaurants (which I love) are busy, wasteful and noisy. The car is a bad place to digest a meal, and while eating dinner and watching Game of Thrones counts as a guilty pleasure, it doesn't enhance your life the same way as engaging with friends.
Try a little dinner game I learned from modern-day saint, Kathy Maxwell, called The Cup of Gratitude. Each person says something they admire about the person sitting to their right, and it continues in a circle until everyone has been admired. This simple gesture will forever change your dinner parties.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bitterman