It’s officially the beginning of party season. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, there are plenty of opportunities to host a festive get-together. If you’re hosting this season, these eco-friendly ideas will help make an impact on your guests without harming the environment.
Send Electronic Invitations
Why waste money on envelopes and stamps (and who has time to run to the post office) when you can send an e-vite and also save the environment? Facebook events are becoming the new norm for part invitations, but if your soiree is a bit more formal, you may want a proper invitation to extend. Check out sites liked Minted or Paperless Post for elegant online invites that will save you a bit of cash and the environment.
Ask for Charity Donations in Lieu of Gifts
My family loves to do a Yankee Swap or Secret Santa every year, as does my workplace. If you’re hosting a party that merits gift-giving, give guests the option to donate to a favorite charity or foundation instead of bringing a present. It’s a simple way to produce zero waste; no wrapping paper or trimmings necessary, and it supports a good cause.
Let your guests know your eco-friendly intentions, and encourage them to carpool if possible. Oftentimes, as I live the furthest away, I will pick up friends on the way to an event in order to reduce air pollution and parking congestion. Plus, having a carpool buddy to sing Christmas songs aloud with is the best.
Source your food, decorations, and other purchases from as many local shops as possible. Doing so will reduce CO2 emissions from travel, and keeps waste from packaging and shipping at a minimum.
Avoid Single-Use Plastics
Even now, my mother always salvages any plasticware from parties we host and washes them for re-use. Cutlery, plates, straws, and plastic cups make up a majority of post party waste, and often end up in landfills or the ocean. If you are hosting a large crowd and do not have the means to supply everyone with their own plate and cup, consider looking into event rentals (which we did at our backyard wedding) or host your event at a restaurant that’s fully equipped. There are also several eco-friendly businesses that offer serving ware, plates, and glasses. On the same note, consider using cloth napkins instead of paper; they can be easily cleaned and reused, and result in zero waste.
Use Thoughtful Decorations
I love decor that can be re-used for any occasion. Instead of reaching for that Merry Christmas banner, opt for something colorful or neutral without words that can be used for any event. String lights up or use tea lights to create a cozy, welcoming ambiance, and use greenery or wildflowers as centerpieces. The floral arrangements from your supermarket are often wrapped in cellophane, which, though biodegradable, still often ends up in landfills. When trapped without oxygen, it will release methane, a greenhouse gas that can warm the environment. Using greenery or wildflowers from outside will still create a beautiful tablescape, and send them home with guests, try pressing them, or compost them after they die. For those events that call for it, several stores such as the Confetti Bar sell biodegradable confetti. Try to avoid balloons, or opt for biodegradable ones instead.
Make Use of your Leftovers
Don’t send guests home empty-handed! If you have a lot of food leftover, consider sending it home with guests in these biodegradable boxes.
Make Recycling and Trash Easy to Find
Be sure to clearly distinguish the trash receptacle from the recycling, and set them in an easily accessible place for party guests. Bonus points for providing a compost bin!
Give an Eco-Friendly Favor
At our wedding, my husband and I said farewell to guests with mini succulent favors (fun fact: our wedding was two years ago and my in-laws succulent is still alive!) Thank your guests for attending with small, potted succulents, seed packets, or homemade floral bouquets.
Serve Local Wine & Beer
Find nearby wineries, breweries, or distilleries and plan your menu around their offerings. Drinking local cuts down on the costs of imports and helps support regional businesses.
There you have it: 10 simple ways to help reduce your environmental footprint and still host a fabulous party. Happy planning!