I recently planned and hosted my husband’s 50th birthday party at are our house.  We had a great time with friends and family and having it at home really added a special touch.  It also added to my level of guilt about how green we could be without driving the caterers, the guests and myself crazy!  I’m still a little self-conscious about being seen as the crazy recycling lady despite writing a blog about being green at home!  🙂

Since we were having 70+ guests we decided to go ahead and have the food catered and hire an event company to provide all of the tables, chairs, linens, glassware and tableware. Okay so score one for eco-friendliness – no disposable utensils, plates, glasses or napkins!!

What Could Have Been Greener

After reading over the supply list I noticed that the cocktail napkins would be paper.  Given the amount of trash they would generate I considered taking them off the list or asking the caterers to set up a separate bin for compostables like the napkins.  (We use a compost pick-up service called the Compost Crew which allows us to compost much more than if we were composting in our backyard including soiled paper).  In the end, not wanting to be seen as the “weird, recycling lady” or impose this on others, I let it go.

I also considered asking that all of the food waste be separated into a compost bin instead of the trash but again I caved into my fear of being the weirdo and imposing my obsession on everyone else.  🙁

What Was Really Green

I am however proud of many of the green things we did!  Clean up day was all about driving my husband crazy with digging in trash bags to sort anything and everything.  I did just throw him a big bash – it’s the least he could do, right?! 🙂  So clean up did take a lot more time than if we had just dumped everything into the trash.  We were able to fill multiple bins with bottles for recycling.  Tons of beer boxes made their way into the recycling bin as well.  All of the decorations were gathered to be saved for when I hit the big 50 in a few years (YIKES!).

What took a little more effort was digging through all of the bar fruit that ended up in a garbage bag with empty bottles and bottle caps – but I was determined to compost it all.  In addition, the food had all been brought in aluminum pans.  It would have been super easy to crush them and put them in the trash bin.  Instead I brought them all inside to rinse them to prepare them for the recycling bin.  Yeah!

Lessons Learned

So what went into the trash?  Food waste, bar napkins and balloons with ribbon were the big ones.  I knew that if I wanted to add a little extra work (and possibly get some strange looks!) we could have composted food and napkins. What I wasn’t sure about was the balloons and ribbons.

I did some research after the fact and learned that latex balloons (the rubbery, stretchy ones) are biodegradable and will break down after a few months since they are made from a natural rubber harmlessly tapped from the Hevea tree. What isn’t so great is the ribbon we tied to the balloons – you know the kind you can curl up with scissors?  It is made of plastic but isn’t able to be recycled since it can jam the recycling machinery.  It has to go into the trash and head to a landfill.  In my after-the-party research I did come across paper raffia ribbon which is totally recyclable in the paper bin!  You can’t curl it up but it comes in lots of colors to coordinate with your balloons and party and can be tied in a nice bow on packages!  I’ve seen this stuff before but just always went with the curly ribbon.  I can’t wait to get some!  Check out this great red raffia ribbon which also comes in lots of other colors!

So I’m not sure when I’ll be throwing another bash of that size but I learned a lot about how I can throw an eco friendly party of any size…and feel good about it!!



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