Do you love parties, celebrations, or any social gatherings? Spending time with your friends and family, fun activities, dancing, food, and drinks… What is not to love? But, if you are the host and organizer, the after-party may have an unpleasant flavor to you.
So much trash generated just over a few hours. Wouldn’t you have a clearer conscience if the garbage wasn’t there? If you didn’t have to deal with all the single-use plastic cutlery, plates, or bowls? Today, let’s look at ways of how to plan, organize, and execute an eco-friendly party that will have much less impact on the environment.
Eco-friendly party general rules
Look for packaging-free
While preparing for the eco-friendly party, shop with the least amount of packaging possible. Buy your groceries in bulk stores in your containers, paper, or cloth bags. Stock on snacks like nuts and seeds, olives, or dried fruits that are easily accessible in bulk. Buy other ingredients in glass containers that you can reuse or recycle. Visit your local farmers’ market and zero-waste store, instead of the supermarket.
Prefer local and seasonal
What specific produce you shop for also has an impact. Choosing local and seasonal fruits and vegetables reduce the need for transportation. Before you delight your guests with tropical fruits, take into account their journey.
They had to be shipped for long distances to get to your country. Then they were transported by trucks around the country, to finally get to your store. Compare that to the short route that the apple from a neighboring city had to take.
Add vegetarian / vegan foods
As I have already talked about in my article on how to make your kitchen more eco-friendly, adding vegetarian or vegan dishes lowers your impact on the environment. The meat and dairy industries are one of the principal sources of greenhouse gasses.
According to The Guardian, animal farms take up to 83% of farmland, producing only 18% of calories. Hopefully, you can prepare several meatless options and surprise your guest with delicious and guilt-free options.
Food and tableware
You probably guessed that I would recommend you not to use any single-use plates, glasses or cutlery. However, even if you use paper plates or biodegradable plates, if you do not correctly dispose of them, they will end up in the landfill anyway. And they will release greenhouse gasses.
Instead of focusing on switching to more eco-friendly single-use alternatives, you should focus on choosing reusables, or on finding a way to eliminate the need for tableware altogether.
It is easy to plan the food and drinks in a way, that will eliminate the need for single-use items, while also lowering the use of reusables, so you don’t have to wash so many dishes after your eco-friendly party.
If your guests can eat with their hands without it getting messy, they won’t need a plate or a fork. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good dip? You probably have your favorite recipes and recipes that always do well with your guests. Pick a few and make bigger batches that you can serve in your regular plates or bowls.
My favorites are variations on hummus and baba ganoush (Middle Eastern dips based on chickpeas and eggplant, respectively), guacamole, Chilean pebre (finely chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, and chili pepper), or vegan cheese dip.
How to eat the dips
Obviously, you need to have something to eat the spreads with. Traditionally, you would think of buying chips, nachos, or other snacks. However, chips aluminum-like bags are not recyclable, and they will have to go to the landfill, so I would suggest switching things up.
Try making the party crunchy by cutting veggie sticks and slices using your favorite vegetables. The most appropriate are celery, carrots, cucumber, peppers, beets, and radishes.
And to accommodate the taste for something less healthy, you can bake your own vegetable chips. Add a bit of fancy seasoning, and your chips will be much tastier and healthier than the snacks you could buy.
If you want to add more food, think of anything that you can serve on a dish, and your guest can eat with their hands or using a food pick. Let your imagination fly: mini sandwiches, mini savory cakes or quiches, mini pizzas, or any other salty baked goods, spring rolls, or even sushi.
If you bought other snacks like nuts, seeds, or you made popcorn, you could serve them in a bowl. You can also put them in a beautifully arranged brown paper bag, and give your eco-friendly party a bit of rustic feel. You can compost or recycle paper bags after the party.
For the sweet tooths
To serve sweet treats, first think of fruit platters or skewers, delicious and healthy. Then you can bake your favorite recipes for individual-sized sweets like cookies, muffins, mini pies, and many others.
Another great and delicious option is to serve ice-cream, but serve it in cones, so you don’t need any extra bowls that have to be washed later.
As you can see, this way, you might only need a few bigger plates and bowls to serve the food, and your guest can eat using their hands, so you do not have so much to wash after the party. This way, you are not sending any single-use items to the landfills.
Get your food from a local bakery
In case you think this is too much to prepare by yourself, you can outsource some of it to a local store or bakery. Order sweet and savory mini baked goods. They will be able to accommodate you and to shop without using any plastic containers. Pack it all in paper bags, or even a cardboard box, so you can recycle them later.
Buying drinks is another way to bring a lot of unnecessary trash to your house when you can easily prepare the drinks at home. To avoid all the soft drinks in plastic bottles, make tasty homemade variations.
I personally love to prepare fruit infused water, which is just some cut-up fruits or even veggies like cucumber mixes with water. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors can mix, and you have a delicious and healthy drink. To make something with more taste, make homemade lemonade, juices, smoothies, or ice-tea. Everyone will appreciate the extra effort. flavor
Alternatively, search for store-bought drinks in glass bottles, so you can recycle them after the party.
Food waste management of an eco-friendly party
Now that you didn’t have to use any single-use items, but you still want your guests to feel comfortable and clean. You can provide paper napkins to clean their hands. But you need to think ahead and prepare for how to dispose of them.
If you have compost at home, you already have a great solution. In case you don’t have one, separate all the food waste, paper napkins, and other compostables. Search for a local composting site, where you can take it after the party.
Have a bin ready for you and your guests to use for any food waste and paper napkins, so that it doesn’t get mixed with other possible trash.
If you cant imagine an eco-friendly party without decorations, there are definitely ways to get much greener than traditional plastic balloons, banners, or confetti. To avoid any plastic, let’s look into natural options. You can use natural materials to stylishly decorate the venue. Think of using potted plants, locally grown flowers, green branches, leaves, pinecones, or any other natural materials that are in season.
In case you still want more traditionally looking decorations, think about making or buying paper decorations that can be reused and recycled. Even better, reusable textile banners that can be used again in the future.
If this is your first eco-friendly party, it might seem like a lot of work. However, I have been preparing all my parties this way for years now. I have learned to cook and make drinks very quickly and I do not decorate much.
The time I spend on the preparations is considered as a gift to my guests because they always appreciate homemade foods more than just chips and snacks. Also, I think of it as a gift to the environment, as I do not create any trash. I feel really accomplished after a celebration like this, and it keeps me motivated.
However, you can do as much as is possible for you in your specific situation. Adding just one or two of these ideas will lower your impact. That is a good start. It’s better to start slow and keep improving over time than getting overwhelmed and not starting at all. Choose what feels doable and stick to it until you feel comfortable to add more.