By Chere Di Boscio
Under the warmer sun, patios bloom with cold drinks and hot conversations. Barbecues get fired up, drinks nights quickly spill out into the garden, and there seem to be parties galore: many people have birthdays in the spring, and of course, there are more weddings, too. But with all the food waste, disposable utensils and wrapping paper, how can you throw the ultimate party yet still keep your title of eco-conscious consumer? It just takes a bit of planning…
1. Rethink your party decor
Sure, you want your venue to look festive, but the days of buying one-off party decor are so over. Streamers, balloons, and banners are fun for a moment, but they create a lot of waste. Still, if you feel a party isn’t a party without lots of decor stating, “It’s party time,” choose generic paper banners like these instead of customised ones that say ‘Happy 30th’, for example – so you can save them and use them for your next bash.
Get a bit creative: use rose petals as confetti or scatter them to decorate your table; use tea lights on the lawn or table to create ambiance; fill Mason jars with flowers or colourful candies, or learn how to make tissue paper flowers you can use again and again.
But for the ultimate tip: why not decorate with plants and flowers? Design experts say that this year’s decor trends are all about bringing the outdoors indoors – so grab some wildflowers and pair them with a contrasting table cloth, or buy little succulents and dot them around the table. Bonus – you can give these away as party favours at the end of the event!
2. Go digital with your invitations
Not only will you be saving yourself some money, but you will also be consuming less and producing less waste. It’s a win-win for all around. And when you send your digital invitation, why not brag a little and let the guests know that you’re throwing an eco-friendly party? It will help them understand any non-traditional choices you make in the pursuit of your eco-friendly soiree.
3. Patronise local veggie businesses
The more locally you shop for your food, the less fuel it takes to get those products to your house. And the more plant-based your menu is, the more sustainable it is, for sure. Shop at your local grocery store or visit the local farmer’s market to save CO2, and work on creating a vegan or vegetarian based menu – I promise that there are so many great options for this, even the most hardcore carnivore will leave your fiesta satisfied! Check here for recipe ideas.
Plus, giving your patronage to local farms and sellers boosts your local economy. And of course, the flavors will be tastier the fresher the produce is.
4. Avoid paper plates and plastic utensils
There are not many who like the idea of all the cleanup that using real cutlery entails. So how can you avoid the waste of paper plates and plastic utensils while keeping cleanup to a minimum?
Consider a finger-food only type of party. Provide toothpicks for foods that are too messy to eat with fingers. Guests will eat smaller portions and only what can be picked up with their hands. This will be better for waistlines, your budget, and the amount of waste and cleanup at the end of the day.
If that’s not possible, stock up on extra steel utensils – and that includes purchasing steel or bamboo straws instead of giving out plastic ones. You can use them again and again, and really, is it that much trouble to rinse off a fork?
5. Have a food leftover plan
Food waste is real, and it often begins with not knowing how many guests will show up. Not having enough food to feed everyone is a host’s worst nightmare, so we often overcook and over-prepare.
The fact is, it’s not that hard to plan for portions: think of how many adults will be there, how many kids, and plan accordingly. If your guests end up not having much of an appetite, have a contingency plan in place for handling the leftovers – use them for lunches for the next few days, or pack little doggie bags for all the guests to take home with them.
Another great idea is not to put out all the food on display at once, and only refill plates when needed. This way you can leave party food like cupcakes and sandwiches in the fridge that can more easily be frozen for school lunchboxes if they don’t get eaten at the party.
6. Enlist guests’ help with dividing up trash
As part of your decor and a little nudge toward education on recyclables, make sure you have a clear trash division station. Have a bin for bottles. A bin for food scraps. A bin for cartons. A bin for plastics… You get the idea. For a festive feel (this is a party after all), get an artistically inclined friend to draw a picture illustrating what type of trash goes in each bin.
7. Insist on sustainable gifts
As adults, do we really need to receive gifts still? If your answer is a hearty YES, at least ask for guests to buy you services, like massages and beauty treatments, rather than stuff. In the case that you actually really do need help with buying stuff, give guests a specific gift list. For example, newlyweds can share their bridal registry online, or you can suggest to your guests that for your housewarming, you would love it if they could just buy gift certificates for your favourite department store.
For kids’ parties, maybe keep it to a ‘no plastic’ theme, and insist all gifts are wrapped in old newspapers or recyclable butcher’s paper.
8. Keep games simple
If you’re having a party for kids, there’s no need to buy games like ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ or a karaoke machine. Spark their creativity by giving them chalk to draw with outside, or plan a nature-based scavenger hunts, egg-and-spoon race or obstacle course in your local park. Nature and outdoor games provide limitless potential for kids to discover, explore and create.
9. Remember noise is pollution, too
Even if all your food is vegan and organic and you’re recycling everything at your event, if you’re blasting tunes well past midnight, your neighbours will be suffering from noise pollution (and your guests may well be, too!). Remember to be courteous!
10. Give an earth-friendly party favour
Not sure what that entails? An earth-friendly party favor is one that is sourced ethically and that has a small environmental footprint, whether in its creation or in its consumption. For example? Consider whipping up a batch of your famous no-bake bliss balls as a party favour, or some other homemade treat. Alternatively, if you’ve bought steel or bamboo straws for the event, allow guests to take them home so they never have to accept another paper straw! For weddings, we love the idea of giving guests seedlings they can plant at home to remember your special day.
Last image: Pinterest
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