Food

5 ways to host a plastic-free dinner party

In partnership with
GANT

Food writer Anna Barnett knows a thing or two about hosting. Here she tells us how to throw a dinner party with minimal waste…

From working her way up through MTV and T4, to being a PA for Kelly Osbourne and Henry Holland, Anna Barnett’s career hasn’t taken a traditional route to respected cook and food writer. 

During her time working for fashion brands and celebrities, Anna wrote her food blog, hosted supper clubs and put on big dinner parties in a converted pub in Hackney. 

Her hobby eventually turned into a career and Anna now writes about food for Vogue, Grazia and the Evening Standard. 

She’s also written her own cookery book, Eat The Week, puts on pop-up restaurants and caters for private clients.

Here Anna tells us how to put on a minimal waste dinner party that will leave your conscience feeling as good as your food tastes.

Set the scene

“To make your table look great, stay away from plastics and opt for china, bamboo or anything upcycled. 

Fresh flowers are great, and cotton tablecloths and napkins that can easily be washed and reused look beautiful. They help to minimise waste and reduce the need for single-use items. 

Candles are always a must for dinner party! Personalised name places or fresh herb place settings are also nice and add a fragrant touch.

Just keep things simple, as going overboard on decorations can be wasteful (you’re guests aren’t here to eat those). Stick to a colour scheme and allow your food to be the centrepiece.”

Shop mindfully

“The sheer volume of packaging means I avoid shopping in the supermarket whenever possible. 

I’m lucky enough to have a great local fruit and veg store where you can pick everything yourself, so I take my own bag down there and fill it to avoid the enormous waste.

Companies such as Abel & Cole, Daylesford and Farm Drop that deliver packaging-free produce to your door are also great. Farm Drop even deliver by electric van.

Otherwise, you can use local suppliers and British produce with as little distance to travel as possible. It helps reduce pollution and your carbon footprint to get the food to you.”

Cook seasonally and locally

“Avoiding meat dramatically helps reduce your carbon footprint, so I rarely cook it.

I’m a huge lover of pasta. Whether it’s homemade or dried and shop bought, you can whip up your sauce and add it to cooked pasta with minimal fuss when your guests arrive. 

Serve with salads, fresh herbs and locally bought baked bread with olive oil. 

A seasonal favourite is British asparagus with plenty of garlic, fresh peas, wild peppery rocket, extra virgin olive oil and a generous amount of lemon zest.”

Drink organic

“In terms of booze for your dinner party, you can get some great organic proseccos (even Aldi sells them), but I find most independent grocers now have an organic option for red and white wines. 

I swear the hangover isn’t anywhere near as bad if you drink organic!

Leftovers at my house are always bundled up and sent off with anyone that comes for dinner. I also save any takeaway packaging and reuse these time and time again.

They’re also great for keeping herbs fresh in the fridge. Put them in an air-tight container and they last triple the time.”

Dress sustainable

“I think it’s important to carry a sustainable ethos into other areas of your life. 

I’ve recently really tried to choose my clothes more responsibly or opt for investment pieces I know I’ll wear again instead of throwaway fast fashion items. 

For me, a classic style Gant shirt from their Beacons Project range is perfect because it’s sustainable (the shirt’s made from recycled plastic), and can be dressed up or down based on the occasion.”

Find out more about Gant’s collection and shop the range here.