Eco Friendly Party Planning
Despite some popular beliefs, environmentally responsible party planning isn’t complicated, hopelessly expensive, or otherwise unattainable. It mainly requires forethought and conscientious purchasing. Even if you choose not to implement some of these practices every day, taking them into account for parties, where we tend to see harmful habits grow with more people involved, you can help do your part to keep the planet a little healthier.
Depending on the size of the party you’re planning, you may be cooking yourself, asking guests to bring dishes and snacks, or even hiring a caterer. No matter who’s manning the stove, there are some simple considerations you can make to help keep your party greener.
Leftovers Are Delicious
Try not to cook (or buy) above and beyond your guests’ capacity to eat, but if you do suspect you’ll have an overabundance of food, ask your guests to bring reusable containers and send them home with leftovers. If you plan to save them all for yourself (no judgement), make sure you have the freezer space ahead of time.
When you’re shopping for the big party, try to buy locally grown or produced foods to cut down on their carbon footprint. Take your patronage to local grocers, farmers, or small businesses for seasonal, locally-grown ingredients and dishes. If you’re hiring a caterer for your party, ask them where they source their ingredients from and if they make an effort to cook with seasonal produce before you hire them. If you are buying packaged foods, aim for ones with minimal or recyclable packaging.
If you’re cooking, make sure you have your handy composting bin beside you. A little backyard composting only ever made for a better garden, so you have nothing to lose, but a lot of potentially landfilled kitchen scraps to save.
It’s tempting when hosting a large gathering, to reach for the paper plates. Try to use real dishware that can be washed and reused. If you must use disposable plates, cutlery, and glassware, try for recyclable and biodegradable options. Cloth napkins and tablecloths are also a great idea and can be tossed in the washing machine later. If you’re planning a large event, look at local rental services for your dinnerware.
Birthday parties, backyard BBQs, weddings, and Christmas parties, there’s no end to events that could use a little pizzas (take a look at our seasonal tips for holiday decorating). Try to avoid balloons, tinsel, and other non-recyclable decorations, but if you want to try and be extra sustainable, take a look at some of our tips for green decorating.
Pine cones, evergreen branches, potted plants, fresh cut flowers, dried leaves are all excellent seasonal décor choices for your party planning. Most of them are free too, which is always a bonus. Natural, biodegradable decorations are always going to be green.
Thrifted and Borrowed Décor
Try second-hand stores and thrift shops if you’re looking for decorations with a little more lasting power. You can even swap decorations with a friend or family member if you’re looking to change things up.
If you planning to decorate for a large party or event, you may want to consider renting party decorations. This is a popular choice for weddings, especially, but also graduations, retirement parties, and Christmas parties.
We love virtual invitations. E-invites are very environmentally friendly compared to their paper counterparts. If you’re planning a wedding and want invitations to frame later, consider getting a few printed for posterity and emailing the rest. It will be significantly greener and significantly more cost-effective.
If you aren’t hosting the party yourself, you’ll want to pay close attention to the environmental policies and practices of your venue. Look for venues that have green waste disposal programs in place, ones that use energy efficient or natural lighting, and focus on water conservation. You can ask for this information before booking. If you’re planning your event in the summer, consider taking it outdoors. Natural lighting, ventilation, and heating/cooling are all excellent ways to keep your party carbon neutral.
It’s worth considering how easy the venue is to access as well. Is it feasible for your guests to walk, bike, or take public transportation? Can you arrange carpooling or a shuttle service? These are all things to consider while you’re weighing the pros and cons of different shuttle services.
Everyone likes a little something to remember a happy occasion. Try to use paper packaging and recyclable boxes over plastic bags and cellophane to gift party favors in. Use practical gifts rather than cheap gimmicks. For example, candy for children’s birthday parties and inscribed bottle openers or wine glasses for weddings.
Use the recycling search feature to help find drop-off locations and recycling options for over 70 materials or products. Visit our Recycling page.