It’s the last few weeks of summer, which means it’s the last few weeks to plan and throw one more awesome summer party. Maybe it’s a Labor Day bash, a late Leo’s birthday, or simply one last party to throw before heading back to University. Whatever the case may be, you can still party with as little waste as possible. Here are our Top 5 Zero-Waste party tips to green up your summer bash.
First up is one of the simplest, use your real dishes, utensils, and cloth napkins. So the whole idea of using paper in the first place is that it’s supposed to be easier to clean, but if you make sure to have an empty dishwasher at the beginning of the party cleanup is still a breeze. If you need to use disposables, you can get compostable party supplies from places like Green Paper Products, but we highly highly recommend going reusable.
When handed a mason jar cup and a ceramic plate, your guests will naturally treat them better than disposables. You won’t have guests grabbing three or four plates during the party, you won’t have people grabbing a new cup simply because they forgot which cup was there, and you won’t have people simply grabbing new utensils if they drop them. A person’s behavior is shaped by the environment, which is one of the reasons why it is so hard to get people to make sustainable choices in a modern culture that is geared towards making everything as fast, convenient, and disposable as possible. But if you trust your guests with the little bit of responsibility it takes to take care of a ceramic plate, they’ll easily rise to the challenge. As the party host, you are creating the atmosphere for the evening, and so if you choose an atmosphere that values sustainability, you’re guests will follow.
Zero-Waste Your Themes
Next up is to zero-waste your party theme. Now, we don’t mean that the theme of the party has to be “zero-waste,” but instead we mean host a themed party where the theme can be done zero-waste. Aside from giving all your guests the option for a zero-waste party, it also makes it easier to streamline your party around a central theme. For example, for a 90’s throwback party, skip the ring pops and tamagotchis, and instead challenge your guests to thrift for the best 90’s inspired “costume.” Pick a theme like “Greek food night” to keep the food and drinks your guests bring simple. And even for a generic end-of-summer party, use flowers, leaves, and other zero-waste decorations. Hint, white Christmas lights make surprisingly good summer decorations too.
Smart Food Choices
Next up, keep it to fingerfood. Not only will this reduce your reliance on utensils, but it’ll also help manage your food sizes. The catering industry standard is to offer two to three servings of fingerfood per guest, which is designed to reduce food waste as much as possible. And light, breezy meals will delight your guests without the problem of uneaten trays of macaroni because no one was brave enough to take the first bite, coleslaw that no one can take home because it’s been left out in the sun for too long, and people taking giant portions of goodies before their fullness kicks in. As always, also be sure to shop for local and in-season food as well help reduce your overall impacts.
Plan Your Clean Up
Leftovers will always be a part of a party, so make sure to have a good plan for sending your guests home with goodies. Whether it’s biodegradable take-home containers, reusable glass containers that they’ll return to you the next party, or simply beeswax food wraps, a little preparation saves you a headache and the planet from trash. Be sure to also know your composting options, like what can go in your compost, what can be brought to a local compost, and what food your canine companion can help clean up.
Focus on Usability
Finally, if you have any other party favors or giveaways, focus on giving away things people will actually use. Now, “refuse” as in refusing giveaways is one of the big zero-waste life mottos, so we don’t really recommend giving away anything other than fond memories and full bellies, but if you do need a give away there are still plenty of actually usable options. Small succulents, glass shot-glasses, wine glasses, candles, scented soaps, bottle openers, printed mason jars, cork coasters, and so on. There are plenty of giveaways that your guests will actually find themselves using. You can even keep with the zero-waste theme with gifts like reusable water bottles, canvas bags, or a portable reusable utensil kit.