Cinco de Mayo is rapidly approaching. Despite the fact that the holiday is relatively minor in Mexico—the day commemorates the Mexican victory over the French army in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla—in the US, it’s become a time to get your groove on, celebrate your Mexican heritage (or just your love of margaritas), and to throw a party. I bet you didn’t know that there could be a dirty little secret lurking at your Cinco de Mayo shindig. But let’s start with the easy stuff.
You know all the general rules, so I won’t bore you with those. Go organic for food, use glassware instead of plastic cups, that sort of thing. In all seriousness though, who wants to do tons of dishes the morning after? I know I don’t. Sometimes it’s just more practical to use disposable plateware. So instead of grabbing some paper plates on your next trip to Kroger, swing by a specialty grocery store like Whole Foods where they stock eco-disposable (yes, it’s a real thing) plateware made from sugar cane and disposable cutlery made of biodegradable plastic that’s 80 percent corn-based starch. Good for the environment and good for your sanity. That’s what I call a win-win.
Take the party outside to save on energy. I mean, you are going to have a piñata, right? You might as well do everything outdoors. While the sun is up, the natural light provides all of the illumination you need and then when the sun goes down, soy-based candles give your yard a sexy outdoor bistro-like glow. Cut flowers and fresh fruits make perfect earth-friendly centerpieces, but who are we kidding? No one is going to complain if the tables are full of chips and salsa, so let the food speak for itself and save time and resources in the process.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah, plates and forks and whatever. What about the booze?” What about the booze, indeed. This is where we need to get serious people. This is that dirty little secret I mentioned before. Cinco de Mayo is never complete without margaritas. Margaritas are made with tequila.
I bet you didn’t know that most tequila is poison to the environment—at least the process of making it is. I had no clue! In a stunning instance when Fox News and Mother Jones agree with one another, the word is out: tequila is dirty. On average, 11 pounds of pulp and 10 liters of vinazas—which I think is Spanish for “acidic waste that kills every soil nutrient in its path”—are produced for every one liter of tequila. That’s right: one liter. This is so serious that science departments in major universities are taking up the “No Bad Tequila” banner—which is ironic, given how much college students love their tequila. The good news is that if the vinazas is filtered, it does not have a catastrophic impact on the earth.
So don’t scrap your Cinco de Mayo plans yet. Instead, look for USDA Certified Organic tequila such as Casa Noble, the first tequila to garner the certification. Other companies pride themselves on generations of eco-friendly farming to produce tequila that is good for the environment, complete with recycled packaging. For your beer drinking friends, support the local economy and purchase six packs from a nearby brewery. Not only does this cut down on shipping costs—and those pesky fossil fuels—it also gives you the chance to enjoy a smaller brewery’s take on the elixir of the gods. And most of the time these smaller outfits engage in earth-friendly practices in ways that some of the big ones choose not to. Another win-win.