by Reisa Mukamal
Beth Murray participated in last summer’s workshops on energy savings offered by aFewSteps.org, a volunteer organization whose mission is to raise awareness of energy use in the four communities of Nether Providence, Rose Valley, Rutledge, and Swarthmore. Though the workshops were edifying and appreciated, Murray observed, “We were preaching to the choir.” As one of the founders of aFewSteps.org, she thought long and hard about the challenge of reaching a wider audience. And then she hit on it: instead of holding workshops, how about throwing parties? The approaching winter holidays afforded a great opportunity. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, American households generate 25% more waste in the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s–about one million extra tons of trash per week. Parties that give guests an opportunity to share ideas about making the holiday season “greener” could have an impact.
Murray held a meeting with potential hosts she knew enjoyed entertaining. “The meeting allayed my fears,” said Susan Brake, one of the attendees. “I didn’t want to be too prescriptive to others, especially since I have been a ‘slow adopter’ on environmental issues. But I saw that the parties were actually facilitated working sessions for brainstorming. I thought, ‘I could host something like this.’”