Are you planning an event or party and worried about how to do it in the most responsible, environmentally-friendly way? While at first, this can seem like a daunting task, it’s easier than it looks, especially if you focus on one element at a time or take it step-by-step. Here are some tips to help you plan a more eco-friendly party:
Use Digital Invitations
One way to create less waste before your event even starts is to change the way you send invitations. Instead of sending paper invitations, send virtual invitations. You can create beautiful and personalized invitations that you can send via email, and if you aren’t comfortable using design software, many pre-designed and customizable options are available online. Not only will you save carbon emissions by not mailing invitations, but you will also save paper by not creating single-use items that will be thrown away soon.
Use Reusable Tableware
Instead of using disposable plates, cups, and utensils, use reusable tableware. You can rent tableware from party rental companies or use your own dishes and utensils. Sometimes, a rented venue like a church building or community center will have utensils available and the only reason to use disposable items is convenience. In this case, consider asking a select group of close friends or family to stay late and help with washing and clean-up after the party. You could also ask the managers if you could come back in the morning to clean up and wash dishes if your party will run late.
If you can’t use reusable tableware, consider buying decomposable options and finding a local farm or composting company that would take them and compost them after your party is over. This may cost more, but if you cannot find reusable options or you won’t have time to wash them, it may be worth the extra expense.
Provide Recycling Bins
Make sure you have recycling bins available at your party so guests can easily recycle bottles, cans, and other recyclable materials. These bins should be easy to locate and well-marked so people don’t have to search for them. Recycling bins will likely be provided by your venue, but if not, you can contact local recycling companies for information on how you can get some.
Choose a Sustainable Venue
Look for a venue that is environmentally friendly and uses sustainable practices, such as using renewable energy sources, recycling, and minimizing waste. If the weather is nice, one of the best environmentally friendly options is to take advantage of the great outdoors. You will minimize your carbon impact by not using air conditioning and by using less lighting. If you are concerned about the potential for poor weather, find a venue that has both indoor and outdoor options, so you will have a backup location if needed.
Use Energy-Efficient Lighting
Lighting is an important part of any event, especially those that take place at night. However, lights can take a lot of energy. Consider using LED or CFL light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. Of course, if the lighting is provided by your venue, this isn’t practical. Instead, consider keeping the lights low when possible, like while people are eating, and supplementing them with candles, LED light strings, and other ambient lighting sources. You could also focus on finding venues that make LED lighting and other energy-saving measures a priority, as mentioned above.
Choose Eco-Friendly Decorations
Party decorations are often made of plastic or foil and are created to be used once and then thrown away. This isn’t an environmentally friendly approach. Instead, consider buying things that can be used more than once, such as fabric tablecloths, candles or lanterns for centerpieces, and reusable table decorations. Once the party is over, these items can be gifted to helpers and guests, donated to the venue or a local church to use for future events, or donated to charity. In some cases, you will want to keep the items to use again.
If you aren’t interested in using multi-use items as decorations, or if they are too expensive, consider buying decorations that are made from sustainable or recycled materials, such as paper lanterns or bunting made from recycled paper. Locally sourced flowers can also be a good option for a low-waste, recyclable decoration.
Choose Food and Drinks Carefully
Choose food and drinks that are locally sourced and organic. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with transportation and production. If you are having a catered meal, find a company that uses locally sourced food and that focuses on environmentally ethical production and foods. Avoid companies that use harmful fishing and growing practices if possible.
Also, try to plan your menu carefully to minimize food waste. One way to do this is by having a buffet-style meal rather than a sit-down served meal. This allows guests to choose their own foods and amounts, reducing waste by not serving foods people won’t eat anyway. When you use a buffet, you will be able to save the leftovers rather than scraping them off people’s plates. Encourage guests to take leftovers home, offer them to local families, or donate them to a local food bank. If you offer the leftovers to local families, identify them and ask them if they can use the food ahead of time. You don’t want to offend them or burden them with food they can’t use.
Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Avoid using single-use plastics like straws, stirrers, and plastic wrap. Instead, use alternatives like bamboo or metal straws and beeswax wraps. You can also use plastic items that have a longer life, like reusable storage containers. Some items, such as stirring sticks and straws, can simply be skipped, especially for casual events. People can use their spoons to stir drinks and don’t need straws to drink. You can also use fabric or reusable tablecloths instead of plastic table liners.
Having an eco-friendly party can be easy if you think about reusable, sustainable, and recyclable options. While some of these things may cost more money initially, in many cases they are actually cheaper in the long run, especially in the case of reusable items. By implementing these tips, you can plan an eco-friendly party that reduces waste, conserves resources, and protects the environment.