It's not that we don't think about it, but - especially this time of year - there are a lot of other 'more important' things on our minds, so we usually don't think about waste until it becomes a problem. If you're reading this article, chances are you're an avid recycler. It's a lifestyle. All of your friends and family know it but occasionally, you slip up. You might remember last year… when waste was the last thing on your mind:

You hosted a dinner for friends and family at your house. The food was superb and everyone was enjoying themselves. As the host, your guests began coming up to you with half eaten plates and miscellaneous items, asking, "What can I do with this?" So you guided them to the daily garbage can under the sink. OH NO! It was already full… you should have anticipated this, but you were too busy worrying about everything else. So you made a quick fix by hanging an empty trash bag on the kitchen door handle (we've all done this in a time of disparity). Phew! That was a close call. Later that evening you took out the trash. You couldn't help but notice all the compostable food and good recyclables that ended up in that heavy, hanging bag. So you strolled up to the dumpster and thought to yourself, 'Eh… maybe next year' and threw it in.

Event waste is hard to manage, especially without proper preparation or guidelines. However, creating a waste system for your events at home can be really easy, and will save you and the environment from a headache down the road.

Use these tips to help manage waste at events you host or attend this holiday season:

~ Set up a waste station where visitors can distinctly identify where to put their waste. Clear messaging will encourage people to clean up after themselves and save you from an unnecessary clean up afterwards.

~ If you are hosting a large event check out Waste Connections' Event Lending Library. They have a number of free resources to help you host an amazing, waste-conscious event. They provide waste containers, dishware, and even décor. The Décor Lending Library also loans party and event décor for FREE.

~ Assign one person to be on 'waste-duty' – This person will be in charge of ensuring there are plenty of garbage, recycle, and compost containers. They will need to set them up so they are visible and clearly labeled.

~ Develop some 'House Rules' regarding waste. Family and friends will usually be respectful of your systems.

~ Use durables. Paper plates, cups and napkins create a lot of excess waste that will quickly fill the garbage. Not enough plates? Borrow from a neighbor, or have a family member bring their own set. Worried about clean up? When people ask what they can bring tell them you would like help cleaning instead. You will be surprised how many people are willing to help!

~ If you're still worried about cleaning all those dishes, set up a cleaning station using small totes. That way it is easy for everyone to do their part.

 After-party garbage? If you need help with finding drop-off locations for excess packaging (block foam, plastic film, etc.), visit for proper disposal options.