Hosting parties and entertaining friends can be lots of fun, but they aren’t always the most sustainable activities, particularly with regards to the amount of waste they can create. I wanted to share my top tips for throwing an eco friendly party and I’d love to hear your suggestions too!
As we head into what for most people is the busiest party season of the year I thought it was a good time to refresh an old post I had shared. I’ve updated it and added some new tips, so hopefully you find it useful!
1. Choose Food Wisely
If you’re anything like me, food is a huge part of any party or gathering but it can also be one of the biggest eco problems too! There are a number of ways to reduce the eco footprint of your party through smart food choices, which include:
- Buying local and seasonal produce
- Reducing the amount of meat served and ensuring all meat is ethically sourced
- Avoiding buying pre-packaged products wherever possible
- Avoiding the temptation to over-cater and therefore reducing the amount of food waste created
- Have a plan for dealing with any leftovers, including reusable containers on hand to pack them up
- Making as much as you can at home
I’ve talked about eating sustainably more generally previously, and many of those tips are still relevant for party food as well, so have a read if you missed that post!
2. Avoid Disposable Crockery & Cutlery
Single use plates, cups and cutlery from parties creates a whole lot of waste and need lots of resources to create the items in the first place, so whenever possible try and avoid plastic and styrofoam options. The most eco friendly choice is of course to use your own cutlery, crockery & cups, and maybe try borrowing extras from friends.
If you do need to use single-use options then try and find the bamboo or sugarcane versions as they are made from more sustainable sources and can then be composted. Paper is the next best option, particularly if they are made from recycled paper in the first place, just be sure to pop them in the recycling not the rubbish bin afterwards.
3. Be Creative With Decorations
Balloons, particularly helium balloons are problematic for the environment as the plastic often ends up in our waterways or impacting on birds, and other single-use plastic decorations like tablecloths, banners and the like aren’t great either. Luckily there are a whole host of gorgeous, functional and sustainable decorating options you can try instead that can suit any type of gathering, you just have to be a little creative! Here are just a few ideas, and I’d love to hear your ideas too:
- Solar powered fairy lights
- Flowers from your garden (or your friends and neighbours!)
- Living table decorations like terrariums and potted plants
- Turn scraps of fabric into bunting
- Make the reusable tablecloth & napkins part of the decorations
- Use kids drawings as place settings
- Make paper chains out of scraps and recycled paper
4. Hire, don’t buy
For items that you don’t think you’ll get regular use out of, or even for your decorations, explore options to hire instead of purchasing. Not only does this mean the items are getting lots and lots of reuse, but it also means you don’t have to find somewhere to store excess glasses, candle holders and the like for the occasional use. You might even find that you can borrow some things off friends as well, which is even better!
5. Think About Your Drinks
Much like choosing local options for your food, choosing local & sustainably produced drinks is an excellent way to throw a more eco friendly party. I’ve talked about eco friendly beer before, but there are also lots of organic, biodynamic wine options and locally produced spirits to look out for as well.
For non alcoholic options, try and avoid lots of smaller bottles and cans to reduce the number that you will need to then dispose of, and instead buy larger bottles and then decant them into jugs to keep things a little more festive. Or see if someone has something like a soda-stream you can borrow for the evening to avoid needing to buy bottles of soft drink and then go to town making all kinds of flavour options!
6. Set Up Waste Stations
The last thing anyone wants to do after hosting a gathering is sort out the rubbish to make sure everything that can be recycled is being recycled and that food waste has ended up in the compost! So to save yourself the effort while still having a more sustainable outcome set up a well labelled waste station prior to the event so people are clear on where to put different items throughout the evening. The easier you make it for people the higher your chances of success. Sure, you still might not capture all the recyclable items straight off the bat but it will be much better than if you don’t give people a helping hand. It doesn’t take much more work either!
7. Try Going Paperless
These days most events don’t require paper invites as email or other online options are pretty well accepted (even for weddings!), so if you can avoid paper then that’s an excellent eco-win. If you do need to send some, or all, invites in paper form then keep an eye out for recycled paper options, or even better some of the compostable materials. You can even now get options that include a small seed which can be planted afterwards which I think is pretty awesome!
8. Be Inventive With Party Bags
I have to admit I haven’t been to a party with party bags for a while, but that could be a sign of my age! If you are making up party bags to give out at the end of the event then use it as a chance to get a little more creative and try reusable options like jars or cardboard boxes rather than the flimsy plastic bags that I remember from my childhood.
In terms of filling the party bags, go for homemade edible items or those with the least packaging, or useful options like craft supplies, gardening tools or seeds or stationary items. Where possible avoid the plastic knick-knacks that get played with for half an hour after the party and then end up in the bin as they’re not only a waste of your money but a waste of resources too.