One of the more recent hot button topics of discussion in society is eco-friendly practices. From businesses to your own home, studies show that more than two-thirds of people want to know more about living sustainably. Truly sustainable living — or “going green” — isn’t just about one aspect of your life, it is about all parts of your life.
This article is meant to provide insight into throwing the perfect “green” party. Whether it’s a work event or your child’s upcoming birthday, if you are planning a party and you want to ensure that you are as eco-friendly as possible, follow the steps outlined below.
Your party decor is easily one of the most wasteful aspects of a party. It may not seem like much, but if you think about it, most party supplies are single-use. Aside from waste, party decorations like balloons often end up in places they shouldn’t be — like the ocean where they have and continue to kill marine life. Things like balloons, streamers, banners, or even gift wrapping are things of the past and there are much better alternatives, for example:
- Digital displays;
- Cut out and paint used cardboard;
- Use household items for ambiance (candles, sheets, tapestries, etc.);
- Rent decor from a party supply store;
- Utilize natural outdoor elements (leaves, acorns, pinecones, snow, flowers, etc.)
There is no shortage of options that are readily available and more eco-friendly than traditional single-use party decorations.
2. Electronic Invites
Creating the perfect invite to send to your attendees can seem like the perfect way to set the stage for your themed party, but after your event, that invite is going right into the garbage. Electronic invitations are the new way to invite your guests. They’re simple and easy to create. Additionally, since 85% of Americans have smartphones, they are way more ideal for accessibility than keeping track of a physical invite. Listed below are some free electronic invitation options available:
- Paperless Post;
- Greetings Island;
3. Food and Beverages
There are several ways for you to classify your food and beverage options as eco-friendly. To start, the food and beverages choices themselves. You Matter — a social justice initiative education site — explains that some foods and drinks are bad for the environment. Some of the traditional party staples like meat, chocolate, fruits, vegetables, and coffee are on that list. You want to carefully go through and pick the food and drinks that are produced the most sustainably.
Secondly, is how they are served. Single-use tableware such as plates, cups, and silverware should be avoided at all costs. If you don’t have enough of your own tableware, ask some friends to borrow some or go thrift some. Straws are always a hot topic of debate. Luckily, there are more sustainable options like paper straws to consider if you feel that they are crucial to provide to your guests (note that many individuals prefer to use them).
Keeping your attendees entertained is often a focal point for many party planners. Purchasing or printing out a pin the tail on the donkey game is common, but it will likely be torn down and thrown away after it’s used once.
Try and get more creative with it. Plan out a scavenger hunt with items you already have. Bust out the various board games that are collecting dust in your closet, or ask each guest to bring a game with them. Plan time for games like charades or capture the flag that doesn’t require much (if any) materials. Additionally, there are more and more smartphone games, like “Heads Up” that all guests can access right from their phone.
Unless you are offering to pick up and drop off all party attendees, eco-friendly transportation is a little more difficult to manage. You can make requests though. When you are designing your e-invites be sure to take some time to request that attendees do their best to group up with other attendees and carpool over or encourage them to use public transportation if possible to help reduce both fuel usage and travel emissions. As mentioned, there isn’t a ton you can do personally without providing transportation, but you can encourage green transportation methods.
When you purchase locally — whether party supplies, food, entertainment — there are a whole host of environmental benefits. The most obvious benefit is less transportation. Since whatever you are purchasing is locally sourced, it is not being freighted thousands of miles across the country or an ocean to get to your doorstep. On the food/beverage side of things, local vendors can generally operate more organically with fewer hormones and pesticides — which is beneficial to air quality and soil health. Lastly, you are supporting your local economy as a bonus. Whenever possible, shop local.
The goal is a zero-waste party, but that may not always be the case. Be sure that you have additional measures in place to make sure that you reduce the amount of waste. For example, be sure to send the leftover food home with your guests or take it to a food pantry. Another example is sorting your “trash”. Make sure that you have a recycling bin and a composting bin in addition to a trash bin.