Hosting an eco-friendly event is all about replacing single-use items with reusable alternatives. Let’s consider all of the different categories of an event and I will provide
simple tips for how to make each more sustainable while still providing a memorable
experience for your guests!
Paper invitations use unnecessary resources including the trees needed for the paper
and envelopes, as well as the gas used to deliver them. Save the trees and send digital invitations instead! I like creating a cute digital graphic and sending it to my guests by email or text. This makes it easy for guests to respond and to collect RSVP’s right away.
If you are hosting a slightly larger event where you may not know all of your attendees
personally, consider using a digital ticketing platform. A couple of great options are
https://www.eventbrite.com/ and https://www.meetup.com/. If your event is ticketed,
these platforms will make it easy to send digital tickets. You can then ask guests to use their phones to pull up those tickets rather than print them to save that paper as well.
Instead of buying disposable decorations, try and use what you already have or choose pieces that you will be able to reuse for many different occasions.
Some of my favorite reusable decorations include fabric banners and paper lanterns.
They are great replacements for paper streamers and balloons and can last for
numerous events. Please do try and avoid balloons as they often end up in the ocean or in nature leading to environmental problems, including being mistakenly eaten by
animals which can be fatal.
Changing the lighting of your space is an easy way to completely change the mood of
your venue. Invest in colored LED lightbulbs or fairy lights to have an easy decoration
that will last a long time. And of course, music can also go a long way in setting the
mood of your party and is naturally waste-free.
As much as possible, try and avoid using single-use dishes, cutlery, and cups at your
event. The easiest way to do this is by using the dishes that you already have in your
If you do not have enough dishes, you can often find very cheap options at the thrift
store or ask your guests to bring their own mugs or plates. Making your event BYOM or BYOP (bring your own mug/plate) is a fun way to have guests involved in creating the atmosphere of the party!
If you do not want to ask guests to bring dishes, you can also look into getting
biodegradable or compostable paper or wood plates, cups, and cutlery. Sea Straws Co has great options for biodegradable cutlery and straws.
Foods that are easy to find package-free or in large quantities are perfect for serving at
a sustainable party!
Some ideas include:
- Homemade or takeout pizza, as it typically comes plastic-free in a paper box.
- Popcorn, as you can buy the kernels in bulk or in a large container from the
grocery store and pop them on the stove.
- You could even have different flavors and make it a popcorn tasting party!
- Fresh veggies and homemade hummus, you can use whatever veggies that you
can find package-free at the grocery store. Carrots, cucumber, celery, tomatoes,
and peppers are always great crowd-pleasers!
- Homemade cookies, who doesn’t love a cookie?
- Instead of serving cake that needs plates and forks to enjoy, try making
homemade cupcakes. You can either skip the wrapper and just use oil or butter
in the pan or you can bake with reusable silicone muffin liners.
All of the foods listed above do not need dishes or cutlery to enjoy, so that would make
your life as a host easier.
At the start of the party, make it clear to guests what the options for recycling and trash are. Make sure that you have a recycling bin clearly marked and easily accessible. If your guests can’t find the recycling bin, they will likely just throw things in the trash. If you are collecting compost, tell them what to do with the food scraps.
Events are all about connecting to the people around you, so don’t get too stressed or
overwhelmed trying to avoid waste. Celebrate any trash that you do avoid creating and
share with your guests what you have done to make your event more eco-friendly.
Sharing your enthusiasm for the earth is one of the easiest ways to get others inspired
to adopt positive changes in their lives as well. Any trash that you avoid is a huge win
for the planet!
Written by Brea Kennedy
Brea Kennedy is a sustainability blogger and event producer from Toronto, Canada.
You can find more of her zero waste tips, and thoughts about sustainable events and
experiences at www.eventfullyeco.com or on Instagram @eventfullyeco.
This article first appeared in our Recurrent email newsletter on August 19, 2020. To subscribe to Recurrent and get a story from our community of sustainability, education, and advocacy every Wednesday, click here.