Like earth-friendly decorating, green party-planning is getting easier. And in some cases, planning greener parties actually can save you money. Moreover, green party-planning needn’t be an “all-or-nothing” affair. Here are some easy, low-hassle ways to make entertaining and party-planning greener:
Buy Locally. For example, if you are trying to have a lobster dinner in Hawaii, you will have to fly them in. Any time you put something on a plane, the carbon footprint is much bigger. So it’s a good idea to try to have menus that allow you to buy locally. Look for what’s available and in season in your area. Organic food is ideal…
Skip the Bottled Water. Filtered water served in ice-filled pitchers is now much hipper than putting out bottled water, as those plastic water containers clog landfills. It’s worth investing in a filter for your sink since filtered water also is often of better quality than bottled water. Besides, purifying the water in your own home will save you tons of money.
- Green Decorations. To create a visual impact without much environmental impact, consider the following tips:
- Use candles or LED lights instead of regular bulbs.
- Schedule your party for the day instead of the evening to take advantage of the natural light.
- Set out potted plants or flowers that have been grown locally.
- Re-use decorations from past parties, such as paper lanterns or tiki torches.
- Try real fruit for both centerpieces and as part of the buffet.
- Create centerpieces that can also be sent home with guests as party favors, such as colorful seed packets or polished river rocks in glass votives.
Environmentally Friendly Tableware. You can make the most environmental impact through your tableware choices. Beginning with the table cover, think about what will least impact the environment. Choose a cloth that is easily reused; for example, a red tablecloth can be brought out for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Independence Day, as well as a variety of birthday parties.
Look to use tableware that you already have or can borrow, and, for large venues, consider renting tableware from a caterer or other party supply service. Stay away from disposable tableware, as it will all end up in the garbage. Even cloth napkins are better than disposable ones when it comes to reducing waste.
Think cloth instead of paper, but paper instead of plastic. If you must use disposable tableware, at least paper will break down more quickly than plastic, which can remain in a landfill for decades.
Organic Food and Drinks. The hottest foods on the market today are grown under the label of “organic.” This means that the farmers who produced the food did not use any chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the growing process. Purchasing organic fruits, vegetables, and even wines from organic companies supports green business practices.
Another eco-friendly entertaining practice to consider when it comes to choosing the menu for food and drinks is to go local. So many resources are used in transporting food items across the country and internationally that buying locally produced items really makes an impact. Buy from a farmer’s market where most of the food items were grown and harvested within a few miles.
Plan the party menu to incorporate seasonal foods. If you are eating seasonally, you’re automatically choosing food that is less expensive to buy. Even local luxuries, such as wine, chocolates, and cheeses, make a big difference. Become familiar with what produce is grown in your area and what seasons are best. If you want to have strawberry tarts in the middle of winter, you aren’t making an environmentally wise choice, but local pumpkins may be readily available for delicious tarts, pie or bread.
Waste. When it comes to the party itself, encourage guests to recycle. Have clearly marked receptacles for aluminum cans, glass, plastic, and paper products, and even a container for partly eaten food earmarked for the compost pile. Set out several cans so people don’t have to crowd around a single area to dispose of their trash. Send leftover food home with guests, and let them enjoy the delicious dishes the next day.