Hosting parties and social events can be the hardest time to stick to an eco lifestyle. You want your friends to feel relaxed and comfortable in your home so that you can enjoy each other’s company, and it can feel like you need to forgo your efforts with sustainability in order to make that happen. The last thing you want is to come off as judgmental, rigid, or just plain boring.
But being mindful about your effect on the environment by no means constitutes a drab get-together. Some simple tweaks can make a huge impact on the amount of waste it generates, and your guests will probably not even notice the difference.
I have also found that your friends are only as comfortable as you are. Passion and excitement is contagious, so if you’re feeling especially enthused and proud about your sustainability efforts, then your friends will feel that energy, too.
I had that exact experience at the cocktail and games night that my boyfriend, Sam, and I recently threw. I was really excited about the set-up and I think my friends could feel that because it was one of the best nights I have had in a while! Read on for my top tips to limit waste at your next cocktail party.
Make clean-up easy with sustainable disposable plates and cutlery.
I love nothing more than to catch up with friends at hosted gatherings at my home, but in order to avoid using wasteful paper plates and plastic cutlery, I’m usually stuck with a pile of dirty dishes after they leave. So I was so thrilled to discover Sea to Sierra palm leaf plates, a sustainable alternative to disposable dinnerware. Sea to Sierra plates utilize the fallen palm leaves from Areca Palm farms in India, making use of an otherwise discarded byproduct. The result is an incredibly functional and stylish plate that is fully biodegradable and compostable. I love the natural texture and color of them, and my friends at the party kept commenting on how sturdy they were. Perfect to load up on appetizers with!
A pack of 25 plates is available for less than $25 on Amazon Prime, and even comes with a set of natural forks and knives. Sea to Sierra palm plates are a definite necessity for all my future gatherings.
Serve drinks in stemless wine glasses with metal straws.
A set of stemless wine glasses was one of the smartest purchases of my late-twenties. I distinctly remember the bash that my then roommate and I threw, where I decided to forgo plastic cups once and for all and use “big-girl” wine glasses instead. They were pretty inexpensive but make even ice water look chic, not to mention wine and cocktails. The trick is to buy a set with thick glass so that they can be washed in the dishwasher, or easily in the sink, without breaking. If the cocktails you’re serving require a straw, then a metal, reusable one is the way to go!
As far as the contents of the glasses, I avoid plastic water bottles with a big pitcher of filtered lemon water. Wine and beer bottles can easily be recycled, and I choose mixers that come in metal cans (like La Croix) instead of plastic bottles.
Grocery shop with reusable produce bags and containers.
It’s amazing how much waste you can avoid at the grocery store by simply being prepared with a few reusable items. I used cloth produce bags for all of the veggies and fruit (except for the grapes and raspberries). I even made the veggie dip out of cashews I got from the bulk section at 365. Instead of buying crackers for the cheese plate, I purchased a baguette directly from the bakery and cut it up. You can also get cheese directly from your grocery store’s cheese counter in order to avoid the plastic wrap it is usually packaged in. The olives came in a jar that I plan to save and reuse. The only food item that I couldn’t find plastic-free were the grapes and raspberries, which came in a clear containers that I recycled.
Decorate with fresh flowers and fruit instead of plastic decorations.
Paper streamers and signs do add a festive (although a little tacky) flare to any shindig, but I don’t think the waste they create are really worth the value they add. They’re not usually high enough quality to be used more than once, and the dye and metallic paint that they’re made with make them non-recyclable.
Instead, I choose natural elements to decorate with. Trader Joe’s is my go-to for inexpensive flowers. I just choose two bunches in similar colors to combine in low vases. The best part is that you will have them to decorate your home for days afterwards. These yellow ranunculus and mini daisy arrangements have been brightening up our dining room for almost a week! When they start to wilt, they can be composted.
Fresh fruit is another really low-cost option for table decor, which can even be enjoyed by your guests at the party! Also fully biodegradable and compostable.
Do you have any other tips for a limited waste a party? Leave a comment below.
Photos by @sdrpick.
Huge thanks to Sea to Sierra for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.