7 Ways to Make Your Party More Sustainable
As much as I love a good party, I’m fully aware that big get togethers aren’t the most eco-friendly affairs. Your common backyard barbecue can accumulate a massive amount of trash, from aluminum foil used for grilling food to bottles of beer and wine. Don’t even get me started on paper plates, Solo cups, and plastic straws.
There are ways, though, to make parties more environmentally conscious. In honor of Earth Day, here are seven ways to throw a sustainable party.
Swap Out The Paper Plates
While you may think a paper plate is convenient (you don’t have to clean up right?), it says a few things about you, including that you’re unsympathetic to the environment. Opt for a set of party plates that you can use for multiple gatherings. I personally love the appetizer plate set from Crate & Barrel. They are easy to store and hearty enough that they’ve lasted through three years of parties without a scratch. Plus, the basic white works with almost any party decor. But I totally realize many of you will never give up the option to throw away the dirty dishes as quickly as possible. If I must go with one-time use—cringe—I always opt for Leaf Bamboo plates. They are probably five times sturdier than a paper plate, though, don’t quote the “science,” and look pretty nice on a table. They certainly aren’t as cheap either, and shockingly, they’re biodegradable so you can feel considerably less horrible about throwing them away.
Set Out Regular Flatware
Let’s be real: plastic knives and forks don’t really function anyway. Opt for a party set of flatware from an affordable store like Ikea, where you can purchase a large set for relatively little. Seriously, you can get a 16-piece set from Ikea for $4.99. Sure, it’s a bit of cleaning, but it’s so much better than adding to the pile of trash floating in the Pacific Ocean. Do you really want that hanging onto your karma?!
Use Glassware Instead of Plastic Cups
If you’ve read any of my posts on cocktail parties, you certainly know how I feel about serving drinks—even wine on the roof in the summer—in plastic cups: you just don’t do it. First off, plastic is terrible for the environment. Plus, it makes everything taste weird. If you don’t believe me, pour the same wine into a plastic Solo cup and a glass tumbler—then tell me you can’t tell the difference. Thirdly, it looks cheap. Invest in some party glasses. I have some tips here.
Skip the Plastic Straws
Most of the time, there’s no need for a straw. If you must have a straw, go with paper, stainless steel, or anything but one-time use plastic. (Those poor sea turtles! And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, google it.)
Send Digital Invitations
I’m the first one to go old-school and send a paper invitation. But I also believe in a time and place for one. Need every party demand a paper good? No. Casual parties can easily be communicated by digital invitation, phone call, or in-person conversation. In efforts to make your gatherings more eco-friendly, here’s one way to easy way to help save the world.
Potted Centerpieces Over Freshly Cut Flowers
We all adore floral centerpieces, and they can be just as beautiful as potted plants rather than freshly cut and arranged in a vase. Unless you are trimming stems from your own backyard, chances are the bouquets you purchased from your local shop or bodega have been shipped in from a warmer climate. For example, plenty of roses you find in NYC are actually shipped from South America! To be more eco-friendly, consider potted plants. Not only do they produce less waste, but you can use them time and time again. A potted orchid, terrarium full of succulents, or planter of herbs looks just as gorgeous on the tabletop.
Serve Local and Seasonal Cuisine
There’s a reason “farm-to-table” restaurants have taken off in the past decade. Eating local and seasons reduces the need for ingredients to be shipped from far distances, such as from ACROSS THE WORLD. When creating your party menu, consider hitting the farmer’s market or researching what foods are in season. You’ll be doing your small part for the environment, reducing carbon emissions, and you get a major added perk: Food will be freshest when it hasn’t spend days—or even weeks—being transported to your local grocery store.