What are your thoughts on entertaining (summer barbecues, birthday parties, etc.) with sustainability in mind?



It’s more than possible to have a lot of fun while producing little waste! There are so many ways to reduce carbon footprints while hosting a great party. Consider these, for example:

Send out evites instead of paper invitations.


 Use “real” plates and silverware rather than paper and plastic. In a pinch, use compostable plates and utensils.

 Buy snacks in bulk.

Avoid bottled beverages.

 Make or buy reusable decorations. We’ve been featuring the same “Happy Birthday” sign for nearly a decade in our house; now it doesn’t feel like a proper birthday until we’ve attached it to the wall.

For kids’ birthday parties, go for presence over presents, and nix the loot bags to boot. If this makes you feel miserly, though, and you have some time and inclination, green bloggers recommend sending out things like seeds for planting, or homemade playdough in mason jars.

 Not least, remind guests of your green aspirations, and set out dirty dish drop-offs, recycling containers, and compost bins.



I’d like to compost at home, but I am afraid of flies in my kitchen. What do you suggest?

Heart in the right place


Fear flies no more, aspiring composter! The good news is that composting is super easy once you get the hang of things, and you can avoid most critters with a little care. First, use a glass or metal container with a tight-fitting lid for kitchen waste. These generally keep fruit flies out entirely, but you can also invest in a fancy compost counter bin with charcoal filters like this one – they’re carried at Bed Bath & Beyond, among other places.

Another way to avoid infestations is to freeze your compostable kitchen waste until you have the time and inclination to dump it outside. One reader tells me that she pulverizes food waste in a blender before freezing, which cuts down on bulk. Either way, if flies don’t detect the food scraps, they won’t hang around.

Finally, frequent disposal of food waste will give the little buggers little chance to feast. Aim for a daily discard, and you should end up fly-free.

LISA BOTSHON is a professor of English at the University of Maine at Augusta, where envelopes are routinely reused. The child of back-to-the-landers, she lives in a household that is skeptical of her zero-waste efforts.

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