Planning a party can be stressful and adding any more To-Do’s can put you over the edge – but I gotta add just one more!
In this post, I’ll share how to go one step further and throw not just any old party but instead a (close to) zero-waste party! And with these tips, it will take just a teeny bit more effort!
Own the Zero Waste Party Theme
A few years ago, I hosted my husband’s 50th birthday party at are our house. While I really wanted to throw a zero-waste party I was a little self-conscious about being seen as the crazy recycling lady.
Now, I’m cool with being known as the crazy recycling lady, in fact, I think people expect it from me. 🤣
My point is, embrace your passion for trying to live greener! Don’t feel bad about asking guests to dump their food waste into a separate bin for composting or reusing the same plate and napkin all night!
In fact, an easy way to make sure your guests are aware of your zero waste party efforts is to posts a few signs around the party to let them know it’s a zero-waste party!
In the past, I’ve printed out a quick note, put it in an empty frame I had on hand and placed it in a few key spots – on the food table, on the drink table, and near the trash/recycling bins!
Okay, on to the easy swaps you can make to host a (close to) zero-waste party!
The heart of any party is the food, right? Whether you are going all out with a full-on feast or just a few snacks it’s easy to make zero waste party choices!
Buy Bulk Food
One of the goals when purchasing food for your party is to keep packaging waste to a minimum.
One way to do that is to buy in bulk versus small, individual containers. Plus if you stock up on bulk items you can always save and/or freeze the extra for family dinners or your next party!
I am notorious for letting food go bad so lately I’m LOVING my Food Saver food sealer! It has saved me from tossing SO much food!
Purchasing foods produced or grown locally is an easy eco-friendly swap.
Buying local food often means that the packaging is a lot simpler. Shopping at a local farmer’s market often means nothing is wrapped in plastic (yeah, no shrink-wrapped veggies!) and meats may be simply wrapped in butcher paper.
In addition, shopping for locally sourced foods helps to reduce the distance products have to travel to get to you. This reduces the amount of fuel needed, conserving natural resources.
If meat is on your party menu, aim for pasture and/or humanely raised meat.
These practices are not only better for the animals themselves but they also use methods that are better for the environment like skipping pesticides or antibiotics.
A close second in importance to your party food is the drinks! Right?
Skip Single Serving
Depending on what drinks you’re serving this may or may not be possible however, in general, larger beverage bottles will create less trash than individual bottles.
We’ll get to cups and glasses later, but if you’re serving soda, consider buying the large 2-liter bottles instead of lots of single bottles.
Or if you’re serving water, offer a pitcher of ice water instead of mini plastic bottles of water.
I know, I get the convenience of single-serving drinks but it is such an easy swap that gets you one step closer to a zero-waste party!
Buy Local & Sustainable
When it comes to beer and wine an easy way to keep things go eco-friendly is to support breweries and wineries that support sustainable practices.
This can mean their processes reduce waste or protect the environment in some way. And, again supporting local businesses cuts down on fuel costs to get their goods to you!
Here are just a few suggestions to get you started when choosing beer and/or wine for your party. I have taste-tested them and give them a thumbs-up, plus, they are also readily available at my local beer and wine store!
They are a NY based company that supports their local community and the environment through a variety of green and sustainable practices.
Read more about Brookly Brewery HERE
New Belgium Brewery
Their website includes information about all of the eco-friendly initiatives and goals they are pursuing as well as metrics and stats on their progress.
I’m impressed – and happy to support their efforts by including their beers at my next party! You can read more about New Belgium HERE
St. Frances Winery & Vineyard
St. Frances is a Certified California Sustainable Winegrower and practices sustainably in a number of ways.
With regard to waste and recycling, their website states that during the harvest, grape by-products are recycled and reused locally as fertilizer; paper waste is picked up by a local business, shredded onsite and recycled locally; the winery & barrel building roof structure was built from 70% recycled steel and all food scraps from the kitchen are composted. Wow!!
To find more sustainable wineries, check out the resources at the Certified California Sustainable Winegrower website. I hope you’ll find a wine you already know you love listed – or find a new one to try!
You can also make some easy zero-waste party swaps by considering what you serve your food in, what you eat on and what you drink out of.
The key idea here is to always be thinking about ways you can create less trash with whatever party dishes you use. The more reusable the better!
Serving Trays & Platters
Whether you are serving a yummy cheese dip, a charcuterie platter or chicken wings, opt for plates and platters that are reusable and can be washed.
Consider what they are made of as well and opt for durable materials other than plastic. This rustic serving tray would fit right in at the fanciest dinner party or a casual get together!
Cups & Glasses
Just like with serving trays and platters, the key to a zero-waste party when it comes to cups and glasses is to go with the real thing!
However, if breaking out your normal drink glasses doesn’t work for you – or you don’t have more than a 12 piece set – there are lots of inexpensive glasses you can purchase.
For one of our parties, I purchased a few very inexpensive packs of glassware from Ikea. There are lots to choose from that won’t break the bank.
This goes for wine and champagne glasses as well. Pick up a few inexpensive sets to wash and store for your next get together!
If broken glass is a concern and you really feel more comfortable with plastic cups, there are lots of reusable plastic (BPA free) versions of cups on the market.
I’m a big fan of these from Preserve. They are made from 100% recycled plastic and 100% recyclable – although they are also extremely durable!
Plates & Utensils
For plates and utensils, I suggest the same for zero waste party – go with the real thing!
Either use the set you already have or pick up an inexpensive set at Ikea, Target or Home Goods!
You could even visit a local thrift shop and pick up a great set of plates you can mix and match yourself! Get creative!
However, if you’ve got a party filled with little kids (or clumsy adults) Preserve also makes great plates and bowls! Just stock up once and you’re set for seasons to come!
And for utensils, I say use the real thing! It’s easy to pick up an inexpensive set of cutlery. I grabbed mine from Ikea!
Napkins & Tablecloths
You’re also probably going to need to have some napkins on hand and – you’re going to think I’m crazy but I recommended using all cloth napkins!
Yes, you will have to do some laundry after the party BUT you will not create any trash!!
The same goes for tablecloths – use cloth!
It’s a different mentality, I know, but do it for one party and you’ll be hooked!
Zero Waste Clean Up
To make clean up easier, be sure to set up separate bins in at least one location at the party. And make sure guests know what goes into each with easy to read labels!
For example, set up one bag for cloth napkins, another for recyclables, and one for trash.
In addition, set up space for guests to drop off their reusable plates, cups, and utensils – may be a bin on the counter or the kitchen sink.
You get the idea, right?
And for any trash (aka landfill) you have, en eco-friendly option is to use trash bags that are NOT made of plastic. I love these two great options from Hippo Sak.
Ready To Party?
You are all set to throw a zero-waste party – or one that’s pretty darn close!
By the way, don’t feel like you have to make all the changes at once! Take on a few of them and see how it feels.
Any steps you take toward a zero-waste party are all worth it!!