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October 21, 2008 - Food and Wine

Catherine De Orio
Sustainable Soirée
How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle While Partying Like a Rockstar

The idea of eco-friendly entertaining no longer has to conjure up images of Birkenstock-clad granola types sitting around a bonfire. Throwing a sustainable soirée that is posh and ecoconscious is as easy as following these five steps — and is sure to make your friends green with envy.

Evite is the obvious choice. If, however, you are planning something more formal or that just isn’t your style, there’s no need to feel guilty about going postal. Instead, choose invites made from 100 percent recycled paper. To keep the memory of your party alive long after it’s over, use biodegradable paper composed of recycled paper and flower seeds (Flowerseedpaper.com). When torn up and planted, these invites produce a patch of wild flowers. Lastly, think when choosing ink. Petroleum-based inks can release pollutants into the air, create toxic waste and make recycling more difficult, so opt for non-toxic vegetable oil — or soybean oil-based inks when printing your invites.

Seasonable, Sustainable Spread
If you don’t cook and quite frankly want to reserve some of your own energy resources, throw a swanky, sustainable cocktail party instead. Treat your guests to a caviar bar from The Little Pearl (Lapetitepearle.com), which harvests its delicacies from sustainable fisheries and environmentally sensitive farms.

A selection of American artisanal cheese is also sure to please: cowgirl creamery’s mellow, full-flavored Pierce Pt is a standout at Cowgirlcreamery.com. It is made from organic whole milk cheese, washed in moscato wine and rolled in dried herbs grown around the creamery. Another favorite is the clean and tart Humboldt Fog chevre from Artisanalcheese. com. more delectable cheeses, as well as all-natural, preservative-free paté, can be purchased at Murrayscheese.com.

For dessert, let eco-forward cocoavino lead you into guilt-free temptation at Cocoavino.com. Not only are all of their ingredients organic and/or fair trade that have been regionally or locally sourced, they use only eco-friendly cleaning products in their facilities, which run on 100 percent wind-generated electricity. The company’s “Drunken Figs” are irresistible: Whole organic figs are filled with a luscious blend of dark chocolate, fig and sustainably produced port-style wine encased in organic, fair trade chocolate. If you need another reason to place these on your dessert tray, they pack and ship all orders in biodegradable materials.

If you are the chef, be creative and incorporate seasonal, organic foods from local farms or your city’s green market. If you are still a little green with choosing seasonal produce, go to Ferryplazafarmersmarket.com for a helpful chart. For menu inspiration, turn to Alice Waters, the grand dame of seasonal cooking, in her new book The Art of Simple Food (Amazon.com). Then, head to one of Summerlin’s two farmers’ markets, Gardens Park Farmers’ market any Tuesday or Bruce Trent Park any Wednesday; check Lasvegasfarmersmarket.com for details. By buying local, you help reduce the energy spent on refrigeration and transportation of food products and excess co2 emissions. And best of all, you will be able to taste the difference while making a difference.

It can be difficult to buy local when purchasing meats, poultry and fish. Instead, look for hormone and antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef and pork, as well as organic free-range poultry, which is juicier than those that are conventionally raised. Eatwild.com provides a great guide to grass-fed food.

Set the Scene Green
Bring the outdoors in; use stones, pinecones or shells as place cards, and natural objects such as branches and flowers from your garden to create a centerpiece. If a dead plant in the corner of your loft is the only garden you’ve ever known, order flowers from Organicbouquet.com. It aims to improve farm working conditions, minimize damage to eco-systems, conserve biodiversity and enhance environmental quality.

Gear up for washing instead of tossing by setting the table with the china that hasn’t been outside its cabinet since your wedding shower. or, save vintage-modern pieces of serving ware at Hiandlomodern.com from ending up in a landfill. If dishwashing is not your thing, use dishes, cups and flatware that are 100 percent biodegradable or made of 100 percent recycled content, like those available at Branchhome.com. Bambu home (Bambuhome.com) offers chic options made from 100 percent organic bamboo, making it versatile, renewable, sustainable and stylish.

Replace your standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs for responsible lighting. These use 50 to 80 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer. If you’ve already taken that step toward helping the environment, turn off the light and burn those candles bright. Avoid toxin emitting, petroleumbased paraffin wax candles and choose soy or beeswax candles, like those from 3Rliving.com. Added benefit: we all look better by candlelight.

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
Set up clearly labeled recycle bins near the trash so guests can separate as they go, but check through it once, as sometimes a few too many drinks might leave an unsorted (non-recyclable) mess. Don’t let the food go to waste by simply sending it home with guests in (100 percent biodegradable, of course) doggie bags, or arrange for a local homeless shelter to pick it up. compost what is left, and wipe down the house with naturally derived, chemical-free cleaning supplies like those from method (Methodhome.com) or Shaklee.com.

Conscientious Cocktails
No, the fact that imbibing too many cocktails results in your body automatically recycling them does not count toward helping the environment. Deciding on red or white wine is completely up to you, but do always choose green by stocking your bar with organic (and when possible, local) wines and beers. Looking for something a bit more heavy hitting? Serve cocktails made with 100 percent organic 4 copas Tequila (4copas.com) and Square one Vodka (Squareonevodka.com). These spirits are free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Since producing fertilizer is an energy-intense process, drinking organic beverages helps in the effort to reduce global warming.

Keywords: parties, entertain, eco-entertaining, environment, food, wine, cocktail, decorations, recycle, party
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