Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Some tips to start the New Year on the right foot!
1. Beat the crowds
There's a certain excitement to being out in a group on New Year's Eve, but if you stay home and host your own ring-in-the-new shindig, you'll save transportation emissions—and, of course, money. You'll also be able to better control the environmental impact of your night, from sending out email invitations to preventing the food and paper waste that comes from bars and restaurants. (Oh, and you can let your friends crash so no one has to drive.) Even the Times Square ball is a little greener since switching to LED bulbs in 2006—isn't it time you were, too?
Once you've decided to have everyone over for the big event, you'll have to find a way keep them all fed and hydrated—without ending up with a pile of wasted plastic cups. Look for brands made from recycled paper—like those from Treecycle who makes biodegradable dishes and cups from sugarcane fiber—and make sure you compost those after the party. Even better, if you don't own enough china and glassware for all your friends, rent some: they look nicer, they're reusable, and you still won't wake up to a sink full of dishes. Check Rental HG to find a rental location in your area.
3. Satisfy the appetites
Your guests will need some food to counteract the effects of all those drinks. Keep it simple with a spread of easy appetizers, homemade salsa or hummus, and fresh fruit and vegetable trays-with organic ingredients grown as close to you as possible (preferably from within 100 miles can help you track down a farmers market or community supported agriculture program in your hometown or, if you live in parts of the world where markets close for the winter, you can order online from Local Harvest's vendors—you can buy some carbon offsets to balance out the shipping expenditure. And you don't have to spend your entire year-end bonus, either—your party can be festive and fun without breaking the bank.
4. Pour some green drinks
Get your guests in the party spirit with a bar well-stocked with eco-friendly cocktails—whether it's organic vodka mixed with juice from your local orchard; beer from the brewery one town over; or biodynamic wine. Or make your own: Our How to Go Green: Cocktails guide offers recipes for easy DIY gin and ginger ale, plus specialty drinks like a Lemon Drop or a Rusty Nail, which tastes way better than it sounds, we promise.
This is the year you can finally forego those plastic 2009 glasses, the cheesy top hats, the disposable noisemakers, the paper streamers. Try making your own decorations out of recyclable materials, from soda can lanterns to plastic bottle snowflakes; for a more elegant look, put together centerpieces and place settings that are stylish and eco-friendly. Skip the throw-away noisemakers and replace them with nutshells in a can or cardboard tube, or with dried beans rattling around inside two stapled-together paper plates.
Champagne has long been the drink of special occasions, whether anniversaries, wedding receptions, or job promotions. Raise your glass to '08 with champagne and sparkling wine made from organic grapes and without synthetic additions-then make sure to recycle (or reuse!) your bottles and send your corks off for reuse in Design Within Reach's chair design contest or for recycling through Korks 4 Kids.
7. Pucker up
What's New Year's Eve without someone to kiss at midnight? Keep your lips soft with all-natural lip balm, like those from Revolution Organics or J.R. Watkins, and banish bad breath with organic breath mints from St. Claire's. Still single? No problem. Dating sites like Green Passions, Green Romance , and Planet Earth Singles will have you watching the ball drop with a fellow treehugger in no time.
8. Cure the hangover
No matter how much fun you had the night before, spending all of January 1 feeling like death on toast is no way to start the new year. Start the detox with a blend of organic herbs and seasonings, like those in Lotus Root Cooler or Ginseng Licorice Tea. Drink plenty of water—but not from disposable bottles—and fight headaches with thyme or peppermint tea. Tea alone won't help your body recover from last night; fill up on organic, free-range eggs, too, since they contain plenty of cysteine, which breaks down toxins in the liver. Other hangover helpers include bananas (for their potassium) and fruit juices (for their energy-boosting natural sugars and vitamins). Don't depend on coffee, burnt toast, or more alcohol—none of these will help your body replenish its stores. Fried food, while delicious, is better as a hangover preventative—it slows down the rate of alcohol absorption.
Different cultures and regions each have their own version of a lucky New Year's Day meal—black-eyed peas in the South, pork and sauerkraut for the Pennsylvania Dutch, 12 grapes eaten at the stroke of midnight in Spain. Other favorable foods include cooked greens, legumes, fish, and pastries or cakes. No matter which meal you choose, support local farmers and markets when you shop for ingredients, and choose free-range meat, organic fruit, and other natural supplies whenever you can.
10. Make some resolutions
Many of the same resolutions we make year after year—lose weight, eat healthy, stop smoking, get organized—aren't just good for you: they're also good for the environment. Now it's time to get out there and stick to your new plans!