A Sunday barbeque is a relaxing way to share a meal with friends and family. If you're not paying attention it can result in a small mountain of plastic cups, plates, bottles and cans. Australia generated around 2,080 kilograms (2.08 tonnes) of waste for each person in 2006–07, with just under half being recycled. It's a sobering thought that plastic bottles and aluminium cans take at least as long as the average human lifetime to break down. So why not make your outdoor entertaining waste free by trying some of these ideas.
- Being a helpful host. Make it easy for your guests to recycle by setting up bins to separate plastics, glass and paper items as well as any non-recyclables items.
- Bottle count down. Instead of individual bottles and cans, you can reduce the packaging waste by planning ahead, buying in bulk and serving soft drink, beer and juice from a jug and keeping it cool in the fridge or freezer. Or why not make your own homemade lemonade or punch with sprigs of fresh mint from the garden.
- Ditching the disposables. Use your everyday plates and glasses instead of disposable tableware—or invest in a set of durable re-usable plastic picnic-ware for outdoor dining. Good quality tablecloths and re-usable cloth napkins that can be washed again and again will not only reduce waste it'll save you money. Try op shops or hand-made markets.
- Lighting right. Outdoor lighting is important for late night entertaining and to help your guests find their away around your home safely. Ensure lights in traffic areas like back and front doors are fitted with a sensor and/or timer so they come on when needed. Go solar for fairy lights and for lighting up along garden paths where appropriate and save on your energy costs.
- Catering carefully. A bit of planning will ensure you have the right amount of food and don't end up with piles of soggy snags and salad that ends up as food waste going to landfill. You can invite your guests to prepare their favourite dip, or salad to share in re-usable dishware so you avoid unnecessary packaging or paper plates overfilling your bins and then going off to landfill. If you do have leftovers ensure you get it into the fridge as soon as it cools so it's safe for snacking on later. You can also send home slices of quiche and cake with guests. What isn't good for eating can be placed in the compost.