Homes and gardens

The zero-waste party guide

From biodegradable cutlery and waste segregation to distributing leftovers, all you need to know about being a green host

Want to host a lavish party this New Year’s eve, but afraid you’ll leave behind a tonne of waste and food? Worry not. These eco-warriors from across the country will ensure you party with a conscience. They work in different areas — supplying reusable stainless steel cutlery on rent, organising waste-free parties, providing service staff to segregate waste at source, selling biodegradable cutlery, and even distributing leftover food to those in need.

Plan it right

Rishita Sharma

What: Green Utsav

Where: Bengaluru

Cost: ₹25,000-₹35,000 for a party with 100 guests

Sharma used to agonise over what she saw post-parties: disposable cups strewn everywhere, food waste, remnants of balloons that would go on to clog drain systems. Then she decided to start Green Utsav to prove it was possible to host an event that did not harm the environment more than we already have. “We’ve hosted 35 parties so far: catering and return gifts for some, and full-fledged arrangements for others. We use stainless steel cutlery; our decorations (usually upcycled) are made of paper and cloth and entirely reusable. Our return gifts are packed in cloth bags made by women from disadvantaged backgrounds. We cater food from home cooks, and are careful about the quantity ordered,” she says.

The zero-waste party guide

Sometimes, the return gift is a steel tumbler and a spoon. “A small gesture to help you say ‘no’ to disposable cutlery.” The entertainment organised is also eco-friendly. Clay modelling instead of balloon modelling, and a session with a magician using non-disposable props. A recent party Sharma organised at a Taj property in Bengaluru, she requested them to avoid paper napkins and plastic bottles. “If you explain why, people usually see sense,” she says.

Details: 9591195277

Feed the hungry

Padmanaban Gopalan, No Food Waste

Where: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi

Did you know that, on an average, a little over four million people are fed annually using food recovered from weddings and other gatherings? That’s what this Coimbatore-based organisation — started on a smale scale a few years ago — does. Today, the group also works out of Chennai’s Zone 10 (Vadapalani and T Nagar), West Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi NCR and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.

If you have less than 30 packets to give away, the group, which runs entirely on donations, directs you to the nearest beneficiaries. For bigger quantities, they come by to collect it. The group is part of the recently-formed Indian Food Recovery Alliance, which brings together six networks across the country. “Once the Alliance is functional, we will be able to cover 72 cities, including metros and tier-2 cities. We should be able to touch a crore plates annually,” says Gopalan.

The zero-waste party guide

While awareness that food can be donated has increased, and “even become last on the priority list from not being there at all”, Gopalan says people are yet to plan events better or set aside a portion for charity. “We need better execution. The quantum of excess food is yet to come down.”

Details: 9087790877

Rent it

Lakshmi Sankaran, Rent-A-cutlery

Where: Bengaluru

Cost: ₹15 a set, including cleaning and maintenance costs

For nearly a year-and-a-half now, Sankaran and Rent-A-Cutlery co-founder, Rishita Sharma, have helped more than 125 event organisers avoid disposable cutlery.

They operate out of Sarjapur and Whitefield areas and service a radius of up to 10 km. The friends teamed up to supply stainless steel cutlery to avoid plastic and paper going to the landfill.

Sankaran, who grew up in Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, in a household that used steel cutlery to serve guests, says, “Initially, there was some hesitation because people wondered if this was a hygienic option. But, traditionally, we’ve always reused. In the course of time, we’ve been drawn towards all things white and shiny, and the magic word called ‘convenience’.” Rent-A-Cutlery can serve up to 150 people at a time. “In fact, a corporate recently hosted 1,500 people and we managed with our cutlery — a plate, cup, tumbler and spoon. All we did was wash and re-use.”

The zero-waste party guide

The washing is something the team is proud about. They use a bio-enzyme made of citrus peel; that claims to kill 99.99% of germs.

And while there have been calls for scaling up, the team is taking it slow, since it is an enterprise driven by passion, not profit. “Some customers have procured their own cutlery. That’s the kind of localisation we need. We are happy to have contributed towards that.”

Ultimately, Sankaran, who has guided groups in Bhubaneswar and Hyderabad on similar lines, says it is time we realised that what we throw out comes right back to us in some form.

Details: 9731211364

PVS Suhasan Reddy, Save Globe

Where: Bengaluru

Cost: ₹2 for spoons going up to ₹1,000 for rice husk lunch boxes and ₹1,500 for a car-mountable water bag

The organisation sources eco-friendly alternatives in cutlery locally and internationally.

The zero-waste party guide

“80% of our products are manufactured here. But we import our bagasse and rice husk-based products,” says Reddy, who founded the company with wife, Harika Meka. They also stock a range of reusable wood- and bamboo-based cutlery. The rice husk crockery is microwave-proof too.

Save Globe has tied up with women working in areca nut-rich areas in Karnataka to create bowls, plates and even spoons using the tree’s leaf sheath. These are supplied across the country to corporates and hospitality chains.

Details: 8971752756

Waste matters

Nalini Shekar, Hasirudhala Trust and Hasirudhala Innovation

Where: Bengaluru, Jamshedpur (Jusco)

Cost: ₹12,000-₹25,000 for a two-day wedding with 1,000 guests

The Hasirudhala Trust works with waste pickers. “We have been training them for event management and providing them with the skill set to segregate at source,” says Shekar. Until now, the group has handled events in Bengaluru, and marathons in New Delhi and Kolkata. “We can even handle an event with just 25 people. The host invites us, we suggest appropriate materials to be used, and deploy staff to handle the bins, so that everything is segregated. Ideally, we send nothing to the landfill.” Shekar says they have created a market for such a service, and it has picked up well. “It also helps waste pickers, because the recycling industry has been hit by recession and there are no jobs.”

Details: 9742112362

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 5:27:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/homes-and-gardens/a-party-with-no-waste/article22325694.ece

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