We all try to do better by the earth but when it comes to entertaining, it does get tricky to be eco-friendly. With everything from too much food, to using disposable items, to getting and giving gifts that will never be used, I know that I sometimes feel a little guilty after an event (even if it was a really good party!)
So, what can you do?
There will inevitably be some waste with any party or event you do. It is unrealistic to think that every morsel of food will be consumed and every gift given will be wrapped in eco-friendly ways. The key is to try and minimize the things you can and put a little thought into what your consumables are.
There are lots of little ways and tweaks that can help you reduce your environmental impact. Some of the following are some simple ideas that you could try and incorporate into your next party or event.
- Try using rentals instead of disposable items. Renting plates and glassware will save disposable items from going in the trash and also save you having to do any dishes afterwards (bonus!). And renting is not expensive, many dishes, china and glassware can be rented for less than $0.45 per item. Making it a budget line item will help you see your total costs and help prioritize
- There may be some items that you don’t want to rent. Cutlery can start to be more cost prohibitive (we need too many items like forks, knives, spoons etc) so look into more eco-friendly disposables like products made from bamboo, wood or palm leaves
- Bring out the linens! If you are having a small, intimate gathering, use some of your own linens for table cloths and napkins. For larger events, consider renting linens for your guests. This saves on paper waste but it also elevates your event with a level of sophistication. There are so many options when renting linens and it can be a great way to enhance your theme.
- Have areas for recyclable items to be placed. Dress up a bin or cool steel garbage tin for disposables and recyclables to be put in, or find ready-made options that you can place in accessible areas.
- I am all about sending your guests home with a little gift or takeaway, so think about some eco-friendly options. Herbs and small plants are fun and interesting ideas or organic soaps or lip gloss could be fun.
- Keep in mind how you package your gifts. Think about packaging that can be re-used like glass containers, or fabric pouches for another purpose. Or, depending on the gift, forgo the wrapping and tie a simple bow of twine. Be creative, and be rustic.
- When looking to food and drink options, think local where you can. Pay close attention to the number of attendees and whether you are doing it yourself, or using a caterer, try to stay as true to your head count as possible. Have less immediately perishable foods (like fruit or cheese) in favour of items that can last a bit longer if not consumed. Many items that are fresh and don’t perish quickly (think bread, crackers, vegetables, cooked chicken) can be donated to food kitchens or packaged up for use later.
- Try offering food that does not need to be reheated, like salads or casseroles that can be served at room temperature. That way they will only have to be baked once, if at all.
- Forgo individual cans or glass and offer interesting juices and flavoured water in jugs for guest to help themselves. Not only does it minimize the number of things to recycle, but it also allows you to play with flavours and offer more choice to your guests.
- Fantastic lighting is a must for me for any party, and it’s very difficult to reduce cost or waste when it comes to using electricity. However, by increasing the use of candles, having a glorious fire, or hosting your event when natural light is high, you can reduce your dependency on using excess electricity.
At the end of the day, there are so many ways that you can incorporate eco-friendly ideas without having to go overboard. Unless you’re party is specifically a no, or low-waste event, any effort that you make is favourable and actually can be a fun addition to all your other great stuff.
Enjoy and have fun.
photo sources: verterra; barnwood and birch; hobnob; green wedding shoes; lush; serax;