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When beginning your journey towards sustainability, doing normal things like planning a gathering can seem intimidating. The best thing I learned on my journey is not to overthink it. The simplest things are the best and you most likely already have everything you need!
You may need to get a little creative every now and then, but it’s definitely worth it. Before you begin going through the tips, there are 3 things I want you to keep in mind while planning your eco-friendly party: use what you have, borrow what you don’t, and buy only what you need. These three things will give you the perfect recipe for throwing the best Earth-friendly party!
I’d also like to note that a few of the items that I linked are compostable which is the best way to dispose of items since you’re essentially returning these items to the earth. If you throw them in the trash, they won’t degrade properly because of the lack of oxygen in a landfill. If you don’t have compost, try finding one near you that you can drop your compost off at. These are usually free. You can find compost services in your area here (US only).
Now, without further ado, let’s get into it!
1. Use Digital Invitations
The first step to planning a party is sending out the invitation, so skip the (non-recyclable) paper and plastic this year and make an e-invite. Physical invitations usually get thrown in the trash and most aren’t recyclable anyway because they probably have some form of plastic or lamination on them (e.g. glitter). Instead, save your money and the waste and either make an e-invite online (here’s a great website for this) or just send a text!
If you’re dedicated to sending paper invites, check out Paper Culture for eco-friendly paper. They source all their paper from 100% recycled paper to bamboo and they also plant a tree for every order! How awesome is that?
2. Make it Local
If you’re hosting a party or an event and would like to rent out a venue, try finding something that is relatively close to you. That way, your guests won’t have to drive that far which will reduce carbon emissions. You can also encourage your guests to carpool too!
3. Use Reusable Serving Items
Parties can be really wasteful because of the single-use plates, cups, and utensils. There are also tons of napkins and paper towels that are wasted during the party and after for cleanup. At least when I was growing up, during birthday parties we’d have a few trash bags filled to the top with single-use items. All this waste could have been saved if we just used reusable utensils, plates, napkins, and cups.
The same goes with water bottles- get rid of them! Instead, use a pitcher or carafe for water. Also, make sure to avoid purchasing and giving out plastic straws. If you want to have some in case, look into bamboo straws.
If you’re throwing a bigger party or don’t want to use your personal items, you can also buy cups, utensils, and plates made from bamboo. You can also use unlaminated paper plates and cups, which are 100% compostable. And don’t forget the bamboo napkins!
You should also skip the plastic tablecloths and opt for one made from fabric or compostable material (or skip it altogether).
4. Sustainable Decorations
Besides the serving items, decorations also make up a big part of the waste that comes from parties. Some are reusable but still end up getting thrown in the trash eventually, and most aren’t even recyclable. For example, balloons are single-use and made out of plastic, therefore always inevitably ending up in a landfill or littered somewhere else. Helium is also a nonrenewable resource and the earth is running out of it. We need helium for a lot of important things like different medical uses and for MRI magnets. You can read more here about other crucial things helium is used for.
You’ll also want to avoid decorations that are glossy and laminated, whether it’s made from paper or plastic (either way it can’t be recycled). Instead, find decorations made from cloth or paper instead.
- Fabric banner
- Paper fans
- Crepe paper streamers
- Paper pom poms
- Compostable confetti (from flowers & leaves)
You can also DIY decorations using items you already have! Using flowers and branches is a great way to add a natural but gorgeous element to your decorations. You can also make your own compostable confetti by using different colored flowers and leaves and hole punching them!
You should also save any decorations you use and repurpose them the next year!
Related: How to Gift Wrap Sustainably: 8 Tips
5. Plastic-Free Food
Instead of buying food packaged in plastic and full of chemicals, make your own! Obviously, this is a little bit more time-consuming, but if you have the time then you should definitely go for it. It’s also a sure way to impress your guests ;).
You don’t have to make anything super fancy if you don’t want to. Instead, opt for homemade finger food and snacks for easy & simple food ideas! A quick search on google or youtube will give you plenty of easy recipes (extra bonus points for making vegan food 😜 ).
Here are some more ideas:
- Make your own fruit & veggie platters
- Make a cake and other desserts from scratch
- Shop the bulk section for extra snacks
- Check out a bakery for more goodies!
6. Eco-Friendly Gifts
Let your guests know beforehand that you’re hosting an eco-friendly party and if they want to bring any gifts, make sure they’re sustainable! You can also give them a list of items that you need or examples of what an eco-friendly gift looks if they’re new to this and have no idea what to get.
Another great alternative is to invite your guests to make donations to your favorite charities instead of bringing a gift! Obviously, if your party doesn’t call for gifts, then skip this step.
7. Bring Out Recycle Bins
To encourage recycling at your party, put recycling bins around and make sure they’re easy to find. You can also post signs near the bins to let your guests know what can and can’t be recycled to ensure everyone is recycling properly.
If you compost at your home, you can also set out bags for composting to ensure food doesn’t unnecessarily get tossed!
Related: How To Recycle: A Step-By-Step Guide
8. Eco-Friendly Party Favors
Party favors aren’t necessary, but if you’re interested in offering some, then make them green! Here are some great options for sustainable party favors that really just depend on the type of party you’re throwing:
- Mini succulents
- Plant seeds
- Bath bomb
- Bamboo utensil set
9. Give to Post-Party Charities
Partner with different charities to donate any leftover food or decorations you have. Look for local homeless shelters or food pantries that will take any leftover food you have. If you used any floral arrangements, you can donate them to charities like Random Acts of Flowers which will deliver the recycled flowers to different healthcare organizations.