Parties are notorious for consumption and waste but there are things you can do to green your party and be kinder to the environment. Remember, going green is not an all or nothing proposition—do what you can and it’ll help in the long run.

Recycle: Don’t let a party keep you from recycling. Provide plenty of refuse containers for garbage and recyclables and label them so that it is clear what kind of waste goes in it. The best containers are those that require some action or thought on the part of the user, like lifting a lid, stepping on a pedal or opening a cabinet (trust me, I got a masters degree in this stuff).

This simple act forces your guests to think and notice your recycling sign. If you have these types of containers and label them correctly, you’ll limit misplaced items. If you don’t, just use any containers and label the heck out of it. You’ll still get misplaced items but it’s better than nothing.

If you don’t want your guests to separate their garbage, consider one container that can be separated later, perhaps by a child who wants to earn a little money. OR…don’t even have a visible garbage container at all. This will force guests to ask you or just leave their stuff on the counter or designated table—then you can  take care of it yourself with out digging around in the trash.

Reusable Dinnerware: I don’t use paper plates any more…I use plastic (reusable-that is). I bought a set of inexpensive plastic plates that can be used for any party.  These can be purchased at many stores, both big box and local, and may be available on sale after any holiday. For example, you can get plain red plates super cheap after Valentines Day. I bought plain black plates for about 50 cents each after Halloween and they are great for any occasion. Yes, you have to wash them after but if you can spare the time, it’s worth it.

Regular Silverware: Consider using regular silverware at your party. Depending on the size of your party, you may have to buy one or two more sets, but they are relatively inexpensive and handy if you need more for everyday use, anyway. Plus, your guests won’t be sawing into their food with a plastic knife that’s might leave traces in your prized roast.

Biodegradable Disposable Plates and Utensils: If your party is just too big or you have no time to wash plates and silverware, consider 100% biodegradable compostable bagasse (sugar cane fiber) plates and utensils.  Yes, they are more expensive, but can be found at nearly any party supply or organic foods store and here is a great online source.

Buy Local: Shopping at farmers markets and buying local food goes a long way in the effort to save the planet. Small, local producers usually use more eco-friendly methods for pest control and fertilization and getting your food close to home cuts down on transportation which is one of the biggest polluters and users of fossil fuels. Plus, you’ll be helping local businesses in your own community.

Tip: for greening your party by keeping toxins out of your food, check out Environmental Working Group’s healthy home tips.

Consider the Season: Having a party requires making your home comfortable for every guest. In the summer, that means cooling down your house and in the winter, of course, possibly turning up the heat. All this energy can add up to a large utility bill and greater impact on the environment. Try to be flexible when planning when and where to have your party—a simple change of time or venue can mean the difference between overworking your HVAC unit and letting mother nature help keep your party comfortable.

Enjoy your next party and thanks for thinking of the environment!

Author Aida is a stay-at-home mom of three from Phoenix, AZ.  She loves to entertain both young and old with creative ideas that bring family and guests together and throwing parties that reflect her commitment to the environment. Find more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle while creatively entertaining at Aida’s site, The Creative Hostess.

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