Who doesn’t love throwing an epic party? Or for that matter, attending one? Good friends, fun décor, tasty appetizers… There’s little to dislike. Except maybe the amount of waste they generate. An eco friendly party might be the answer to the perfect party.
Think back to the last party that you attended. Most likely, there were lots of decorations and single-use items, most of which have ended up directly in the trash since. Now think about the number of parties that happen on your block, in your city, in your country. You can easily imagine the trash piles building exponentially.
Eco doesn’t have to be the theme (lead by example)
You don’t have to decorate with sea turtles and green décor to have an eco friendly party. Some of your guests may not even notice that you’ve been earth conscious in your party planning decisions. And that’s kind of the goal.
Some people think you need to make all sorts of sacrifices when going green, when the reality is that small changes are sometimes all it takes. If you are willing to show how easily you can throw an eco friendly party, many of the guests may just follow your lead for their next gathering.
How to throw an eco friendly party
It’s completely possible to host a great shindig, while still cutting down on unnecessary waste. With a little extra care and planning, there are some easy adjustments you can make to ensure your party won’t have a negative environmental impact.
1. Serve sustainable food
Being conscious of what you’re eating goes a long way towards living more sustainably. Ask yourself ahead of your eco friendly party, “What is it packaged in? How far did it have to travel to get to you? How many resources, including water, were used to create this item?”
Thankfully, there are lots of ways to eat more sustainably. For your party, try just serving local food, or skipping meat and dairy, which are responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Choose to order from companies that are transparent about their practices, and limit the amount of packing they use. And most importantly, try not to over order so there is less to throw out at the end of the party.
2. Use eco friendly party decorations
When looking for party decorations, you may at first feel a little deflated (don’t worry, we’ll get the balloons in a second) by the limited eco friendly choices. But there are lots of interesting and exciting décor options available if you’re willing to get creative.
Use multi-function items, like teacups, mason jars, or planters, to help decorate the space for your eco friendly party. Glass jars filled with bright candies or glass marbles can make a fun statement. Consider decorating a large chalk board that can be reused for multiple parties, rather than printing new signs. Fresh cut flowers from your own garden, or sustainable local wildflowers, are also great options. You may even be able to find items around the yard, such as pinecones and burlap, for a rustic feel. Did you know you can even make sustainable confetti by punching holes in leaves? With a little imagination, you’ll have the place looking inviting and eco friendly in no time.
3. Avoid single-use items whenever you can
A lot of party supplies are single-use, because they’re aimed at convenience. And I get it, no one wants to be washing dirty dishes and cloth napkins at 11pm as their final guests make their exit. But the more that you limit single-use items, the less will end up in landfill. Make a plan ahead of time on how you’re going to deal with the washing up (it’s totally okay to leave it until the next day!), and enlist family members to help if required.
You may also be surprised at the number of items that you can rent. If you find that you’re buying disposable items because you don’t need 30 new china plates and 6 glass serving bowls, head to a party rental company to see their selection. If you’re absolutely set on disposable, find compostable, plastic-free options.
4. Ditch the balloons
Traditionally, the house with the balloons out front is the one having the party. But given that they’re single use, non-biodegradable, and rarely all end up in the garbage before blowing away, they present a challenge when hosting an eco friendly event. Even those labelled bio degradable can take years to decompose, getting into the gastrointestinal tracts of all sorts of animals in the meantime.
There are lots of alternatives for those who want to think outside the box. Use recycled paper products to make banners or puffballs, which can be used to decorate inside and out. There are also eco friendly yard signs that can be used to get your party message across.
5. Re-think your party favors
When I was planning my wedding, I asked my event planner what she thought I should cut from our budget. Her answer came quick – skip the party favors! Nine times out of ten, these cute little items that hosts spend so much time preparing end up left behind, or in the trash. Favors are not a mandatory part of hosting a party, and likely your guests won’t miss them.
If you absolutely have to have something for your guests to take home, go for something zero waste. Choose an item that everyone can make use of, and that won’t end up contributing to a landfill.
6. Use the right bins
As a party winds down, the biggest priority for the host is clean up. And unfortunately it can be tempting to just have your guests throw everything into the trash bin, rather than separating it for recycling and compost.
Make it easy for your party attendees to get items into the right bins. Have a station that lists out clearly what items go in what bins, and offer to help when required. You’ll ensure your food scraps end up in compost, and no glass or aluminum heads for the landfill.
7. Just say no to themes that aren’t timeless
If you do need to buy décor (especially the plastic variety), go with a theme that can easily reuse the supplies. For example, if you need plastic cups for around the pool area, maybe pick pineapple glasses. That way you can have a tiki, Hawaiian, summer, yellow, or fruit theme, and it’ll still all fit. But truth be told, the more generic your décor pieces, the better!