Including eco-friendly strategies in your party can seem daunting at first. Questions that quickly run through your mind might be "Biodegradable balloons, yes or no? Do they actually break down quickly? I heard they don't so they aren't any better than regular balloons. What about guest favors? It's so easy to pick up a few items from the gift section of the store down the street. But they're plastic...hmmm. That's probably not good. I need to pick up themed decorations too but they aren't recyclable. I don't have time to hunt down earth-friendly decorations or make them myself! Ugh"
And before long, you have given up entirely on the idea of incorporating sustainable best practices in your next party. You just don't have the time or resources to make it happen.
I get it. I have definitely been there myself. My best advice is to take it one small step at a time. You should consider sustainable tactics that take your unique position and circumstance into mind and do what makes the most sense for you and your family.
What I present here are the 3 easiest and most impactful eco-friendly party tips. Incorporate these in your next event and know that you have successfully made your event more sustainable!
1. Plates, Cutlery, & Cups
One of the biggest sources of waste from a party are the disposable plates, cutlery, and cups. A single party of 40 people can produce over 5 large garbage bags worth of one-time-use waste that could easily be prevented. You have two great options here depending on the atmosphere you are trying to create.
First, rentals are a great option! By renting your tableware, you are choosing to use items that can be used again and are often beautiful to see and have out. It is by far the most sustainable way to host a dinner party. You are also often supporting a local business which is great all by itself. You can take it up a notch from there and ask your guests to only use one alcoholic cup and one water glass throughout the evening. This will help keep the total number of glassware that you need down which reduces your rental cost. I'm sure your friends and family will be onboard when you tell them your goal is to be kind to the earth.
If you are going for a more chill atmosphere and are looking to save some money, another great option is compostable tableware. Nowadays, you can easily find compostable plates, bowls, cutlery, and cups at your local store or from several places online. Compostable tableware is often sturdier than its one-time-use counterpart. No more broken forks or cut through Styrofoam plates!
2. Party Favors
While party favors are supposed to be fun gifts for your guests, you probably aren't surprised to hear that most party hosts fret over what to provide. It can be difficult to find something that will appeal to all ages, identities, and remains affordable and unique. You don't want to give something that everyone will throw out or worst, not even take with them when they leave.
There is a lot of pressure to choose the right party favor and if you try to add the goal of sustainability on top of it all, it just might be your undoing. And again, I get it. The thing to remember is that you cannot please everyone. I like to pick items that will appeal to the most people but if they get tossed, they aren't hugely impactful on the environment. Some of my tried and true eco-friendly party favors for adults include customized seed packets or fresh flower bouquets, bags of fair trade coffee beans, and a recyclable box of locally made goodies such as popcorn or chocolates.
Eco-friendly party favors for kids that have been a huge hit include board games customized with the kiddos name, homemade bubble wands with an eco-friendly bubble juice recipe, and an assortment of secondhand books from which the kiddos get to choose their favorite.
Photo Courtesy of Projects for Preschoolers
Expert Tip: Another great tip is to choose an item where the leftovers are easy to deal with. This might mean they are easily returnable, could be re-gifted, or are something that some of your guests could take more than one of.
3. Party balloons
Balloons are the most common item that come to mind when coming up with party decoration ideas. They are great and considered very festive. There has been quite a bit of research over the years about the impact of helium balloons on the environment. In short, helium is a scarce resource these days and should be used wisely and latex balloons can take years to break down and during that time they wreck havoc on wildlife that eat them.
Keeping in mind that balloons are festive but also can be horrible for the environment, I encourage you to think of alternatives to balloons. Tissue paper pompoms have started to get very popular! You can make them at home or find them at your local store in a range of colors and sizes. They are also a ton of fun for kids to make as a pre-party activity. While being similar in price to party balloons, pompoms can be re-used and recycled! I have seen pompoms used in photo backdrops and as wedding ceremony aisle decoration. There are so many ways to make pompoms a part of your decoration plans.
I also have found great success with garden spinners at young kids birthday parties. They are very affordable, re-usable, and can double as party favors. Finally, recyclable banners and streamers are also great alternatives to balloons.
Expert Tip: Make sure to consider the event space before finalizing the decoration list. Garden spinners are great for an outdoor event but wouldn't work indoors. Streamers are great indoors and while they could be used outdoors with no wind, there is usually a bit of wind which makes streamers not ideal for outdoor parties.
That's it! Three super easy and very impactful eco-friendly party ideas. I hope these gave you a place to start and to help you feel confident in your eco-friendly party planning. Now get out there, start planning, and have a great time!
If you enjoyed this post, check out my other blog posts to make your event planning easier.
'Til next time
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