• Melani Kodikian

Dispose of your Disposables

In the era of silicone straws and reusable storage bags, conservation and sustainability have become a top priority for consumers in their daily lives. But when it comes to parties and events, many find themselves perusing the bulk stores for plastic silverware, paper plates, and disposable serving dishes, spending substantial money on products that will ultimately end up in a landfill.

Even with the best intentions of recycling, consumers may actually be doing more harm than good. Improper recycling is one of the biggest problems. Contamination occurs when food waste gets into the recycling system, such as when people throw used paper plates or greasy pizza boxes into the recycling. Paper cups, which have a thin coating of plastic to hold the beverages without leaking, are not recyclable.

The other big problem is unsuitable recyclables, such as when cardboard materials get wet from the rain, or soda cans are smashed flat. The sorting machinery will not correctly recognize these items and they often are sent to the wrong area, adding more contamination to the recyclables. Contaminated loads of recyclables will not be purchased by reprocessors, forcing the collection facilities to discard the entire load as trash.

In early 2019, the contamination issue became even more serious: “China, once the biggest single processor of recycling, said in the spring that it would no longer accept loads of recyclable items - such as plastic, glass, cardboard, and metals - that were more than 0.5 percent contaminated. Officials said they were trying to cut down on pollution from processing dirty. recyclables…. Philadelphia’s contamination rate is anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent.” [1]

So, we see that recycling is not always the ideal answer that we wish it were, and other options need to be considered. Another popular approach to work toward sustainability has been the use of biodegradable, compostable food service items such as bamboo plates, utensils, and serving platters. The problem with these items is that they are meant to be composted.

“Compostable items are designed to be composted in a compost heap only. Composting is a very specific process which does not occur in landfills. Microorganisms, carbon, water, oxygen and nitrogen are all essential parts of the compost process, and these factors need to be present in the right circumstances (such as in a compost pile) for composting to occur… If compostable products are placed in the more common anaerobic (air-locked or capped) landfill and deprived of oxygen and micro-organisms, then the ability of the compostable products to decompose will be severely restricted. This is true of all biodegradable materials placed in this setting, including paper, yard waste and food waste.” [2]

So, if these compostable products are thrown into the trash, the end result is no different than using regular disposable paper or plastic goods and throwing them into the trash. The same volume of material is still going into the landfill. And, “Landfills are not designed to break down trash, merely to bury it.” [3] If the compostable items are put into the recycling, the same contamination issues occur as when dirty disposable goods are put into the recycling.

As we consider this complicated problem and ask ourselves what we can personally do to increase sustainability, an easy practice comes to mind: “Dispose of your Disposables.”

The party rental business is, by nature, a sustainability business. Everything in a rental warehouse is specifically designed to be manufactured once and then reused over and over. A party rents flatware that is then returned to be used again for a charity gala, and so on. Adding up the square footage of landfill space that our customers are saving each year by renting instead of using disposables just boggles the mind.

Many people don’t realize that “reduce, reuse, recycle” is actually a waste hierarchy. Reducing usage is the first step. Reusing items, which is the focus of a rental company, is preferable to recycling because you prevent the constantly repeated consumption of manufacturing materials and shipping resources.

Reusable rental items also give you more style and customization possibilities than disposables.

By offering everything from traditional buffet chafing dishes to rustic mason jars to posh brushed gold flatware, A to Z Party Rental offers the benefit of customizing the look of your event while you are eliminating unnecessary waste.

Our rental inventory offers a wide selection - for example, we carry over 100 linen fabrics and colors, far more than you’ll ever find in the disposables aisle.

Rental products are the perfect draw to add that special spark to your next event. Owner of A to Z Party Rental, Melani Kodikian, shares that “we aim to be the life of the party while respecting the life of our planet.”

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