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How to host a holiday gathering with minimal footprint

December 13, 2022

Hint: It all starts with the table setting!

We know that Canadians care about the environment and are trying to make more sustainable choices. Which is precisely why Sobeys launched a line of compostable* plates, bowls, and, straws to help Canadians make more ecologically conscious choices at home. Here are some ideas and inspiration that incorporate Compliments Plant Plates for an event that reduces waste.


We are now more committed than ever to be creating a sustainable business and industry,

Michael Medline, President & CEO, in the 2022 Sustainable Business Report

Set a chic tablescape

1. Base your theme on what you have at home.

A simple theme can set the vibe and give your picnic a cohesive look. Extend it through evites, table décor, and other small details, like dress code. Get creative and consider what you can do with what you have at home, prioritizing reusable, compostable, and recyclable pieces. Don’t buy décor that’ll go in the garbage when the last guest leaves. Need more inspiration? Think camp (buffalo check, BBQ, and s’mores) or high tea in the park (finger sandwiches and fancy hats).

2. Bring out your indoor accessories.

The best way to set a striking tablescape? Bring out pieces you already love! On a long picnic or folding table, set the mood with some favourite indoor pieces for big visual impact, like a reusable runner, durable candlesticks, and light serving platters to pass around. Have cushions and blankets on hand for when it gets chilly and consider using solar-powered string lights for when the sun goes down.

3. Shop reusable or compostable* dishware.

Bring out your food in durable serve ware and then set out compostable* place settings. Compliments sturdy and simple line of compostable* plates and bowls are made with plant-based fibers like bamboo and sugarcane.

A picture of two glasses of Compliment's strawberry juice and a jug placed on a wooden tray.

Did you know? Compliments Plant Plates and Bowls are made with plant-based fibres like bamboo and sugarcane, while wheat straws are made from the stem of a wheat plant.

4. Complete your setting with compostable cutlery.

Gone are the days of single-use plastic forks. Instead, bring out a set that can be washed and reused – and when that’s not possible, go for what’s compostable, or made from recycled materials. The Compliments compostable* Spoons, Knives, and Forks are made from birchwood exclusively sourced from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. You’ll need napkins, too, the ones in Compliments’ line for the eco-minded are made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

We take sustainable product development seriously. Compliments’ answer to eliminating single-use plastics have gone through third-party lab testing to meet international standards for compostability

Serve tasty alternatives

1. Go plant-based

If sustainability is priority No.1 for your picnic, consider opting for plant-based alternatives and limiting the meat served. Meat consumption contributes to a variety of environmental issues, including deforestation and climate change, so serving something meatless can help reduce your footprint. And good news! We have ample inspiration. Try these crowd-pleasing and convenient Jar Salads, check out our Plant-based Protein Guide and discover more picnic-perfect recipes at

As a Canadian leader in plastics reduction, we are committed to ongoing partnerships with suppliers, manufacturers, processors and composters to find alternative forms of packaging that are better for people and the planet.

from the 2022 Sustainable Business Report

2. Prioritize sustainability when you shop

When menu planning, consider more environmentally conscious choices. Select local in-season ingredients which boast a lower carbon footprint; opt for recyclable or compostable packaging; and buy smaller quantities from bulk bins so you get the exact amount of ingredients you need. Of course, remember to bring your own bags to take your groceries home.

Fact: Sobeys is on a mission to make grocery shopping more sustainable. Read about the many ways we’re doing that at

3. Limit your food waste

Sure, you want your picnic to be bountiful, but ensure it’s not wasteful. According to Second Harvest Canada (who recently partnered with Sobeys Inc. to reduce food waste), “consumers spend an average of $1,766 every year on groceries that we don’t eat (but could have),”. When food waste goes into the garbage, it produces methane gas which is “25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.” The solution (for your shindig, at least)? Don’t let leftovers go unenjoyed: Instead of leaving things out in the sun while you eat, store it covered in the shade among ice packs; invite guests to bring a serving home via Compliments Containers; and pack up anything you can’t save for the compost. Don’t keep food at room temperature for longer than 1 hour when it’s hot outside.

Set up a drink station

1. Serve a signature mocktail.

In lieu of a wide selection of bottles and cans, streamline your beverage offering (and thereby extra waste) by selecting a signature beverage (or two!) and mixing it into a glass drink dispenser for everyone to enjoy from their compostable or reusable cups. Need some ideas? Start with these Refreshing Mocktails.

2. Remember the non-plastic straws.

If you enjoy your drink better with a straw, set out a cup of straws at your drink station. But remember – plastic straws are not recyclable, and they can hurt sea life or break down to microplastics. Instead, consider offering Compliments’ wheat straws made from the actual stem of a wheat plant.

*Commercially compostable only. Confirm with your organics collection program provider for acceptability.

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