Party Planning: How to Throw an Eco-friendly Event

Christmas place setting

Throwing an eco-friendly party doesn’t mean it has to be for an environmental cause or have a nature theme.  It just means when planning, keep in mind how the choices you make affect the planet.  With today’s awareness and the resources available there is absolutely no reason all parties aren’t green parties.

There are two common reasons people don’t go green when party planning.  Either they think it will be too complicated or they have an old fashioned image of green events as casual gatherings that resemble camping more than formal occasions. Happily, neither of these assumptions has to be true. With a few simple guidelines, every party can be an eco-friendly party, regardless of size, budget, or occasion.

Invitations

Since the majority of modern communication tends to be via email the obvious answer is to save paper and send evites.  If you’re not great at graphic design and are worried that it might look too ordinary or take too long to create something special, trying using services like Paperless PostEvite, or celebrations.com.

If you still feel the need for paper invitations, use recycled paper or tree free paper.  Another fun option is seed paper, which is made from recycled materials and embedded with seeds.  When planted, the paper will simultaneously grow flowers while making sure the paper decomposes naturally.

Lighting

Whenever possible try to use natural light.  Even an elegant evening soiree can begin with the beautiful backdrop of a sunset.  Plus, photographers call twilight the magic hour so you’ll get the extra bonus of gorgeous shots.

If your event is at night add a bit of drama and atmosphere with candles instead of electric lights. Use 100% soy based candles (instead of wax candles that are made of the petroleum byproduct called paraffin) both as a centerpiece and strewn about the room.

If you’re worried about fire hazards, almost anything in your home can be temporarily used or reused as candle holders.  Pillars can be put on plates or trays, and glasses or bowls can easily contain candles of all sizes by using sand to hold them in place.  Be inventive with wire or string to turn reused jars into mini lanterns and hang them from the ceiling or rafters.  One of my personal favorites is long tapers, and I love this clever candle holder that allows you to reuse a candle over and over with absolutely no waste.

Table settings

Whenever possible, use real plates and stemware instead of disposable items. If you are throwing a large party and fear you don’t have enough, trying borrowing or making a quick trip to your local thrift store.  You can mix colors and patterns, adding a funky, eclectic element to your event.

If disposable cutlery is absolutely necessary, try biodegradable plates made from sugar cane.  Also, if you keep the menu centered around finger foods you’ll avoid the need for an abundance of silverware.  Last, always use real cloth napkins, which can be reused and instantly add class to any get together.

Centerpieces

Instead of cut flowers, try bowls of colorful fruit and small potted plants with flowers or herbs that can be passed out as party favors for your guests to take home.

Catering

There are two things to look for when catering an event: organic and local.  Organic because it’s free of unhealthy, environmentally damaging chemicals.  Local (which means from local growers – not your local grocery store) because every time you support local farms, you help avoid the emissions created when transporting food long distances.  This also extends to beer, wine, and liquor.  Hit the nearby farmers market when buying supplies, look for locally made beverages, or order from organic companies.

Transportation

Find out where you guest are coming from and try to coordinate small groups of carpooling parties. This will cut back on carbon emissions, with the added bonus of making it easy to assign designated drivers.

Dressing up

I know that whenever I throw a party, my thoughts immediately turn to purchasing a new outfit or dress to wear for the occasion.  But that kind of thinking can add up to a lot of waste over the years.  If you have a stack of one-time-only party dresses piling up in your closet, throw a pre-party dress swap. Have your girlfriends all bring their best dresses with the intention of borrowing from one another.  That way you get the novelty of wearing something new, but save the shopping for items you’ll get more use out of.

Going green can help save the environment and your budget.  If you want more ideas on ways to make your party eco-friendly, check out the Pinterest board Harriet put together while researching ideas for our upcoming benefit. We’re more than happy to share!

Emma

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