20 Ways To Make Your Parties More Eco-Friendly Slideshow

20 Ways to Make Your Parties More Eco-Friendly

This Earth Day, vow to make your parties more ecologically friendly. From scrapping paper invites in favor of e-cards and text messages to decorating with reusable and secondhand items to sourcing your food and drinks from local farmers and recycling, composting, and reusing your waste, you can easily throw an incredible party without having a large impact on the Earth.

Virtual Invitations

Whether you invite people via text message, email, phone call, or Facebook event, save the paper and the postage and keep your invites in the e-space. Paperless Post has a selection of adorable e-vites that look like paper invitations — and the best part is that a lot of them are free. Not only will keeping your invitations online make your party eco-friendly, it can help you to better track RSVPs.

Encourage Ride Sharing and Biking

When sending out your e-vites, encourage your guests to come to your party together or bike to your event. Not only will carpooling cut down on carbon emissions from vehicles, but it can also give your guests extra bonding time before the big soirée preserve parking at and near your house.

Host Your Events in Nature

There is no better backdrop for any event, big or small, than the great outdoors. Hosting your birthday party, barbecue, or wedding outside will not only save on decorating costs, but it will save plenty of energy by cutting the need for lights, air conditioning, and refrigeration.

Use Natural, Reusable Décor as Centerpieces

Instead of flowers, find unique, reusable, and natural items to decorate with. Wander through nature and find items such as pinecones, stones, and seashells to make rustic, environmentally-friendly centerpieces. Arranging these items around naturally-made candles can be stunning and add a romantic ambiance to your party.

Skip Balloons, Plastic Tablecloths, and Paper Banners

Balloons can be fun, but if they're released or disposed of improperly, they can take an incredibly long time to decompose. Plus, animals can mistake them for food or get tangled in their strings. Similarly, plastic tablecloths and one-use paper banners may be convenient but are wasteful.

Invest in Quality, Reusable Party Décor

Instead of buying single-use items, invest in serving platters, banners, tablecloths, vases, and other party staples that you can use over and over again. Etsy has a cute selection of fabric "happy birthday" banners, for instance.

Shop Secondhand

If you're having a heavily-themed birthday party, for example, skip buying all brand-new items and go to thrift stores and flea markets for your décor. Not only will you find more unique items to make your party stand out, but you'll reduce your carbon impact by giving old items a new life.

Forget Flowers

Yes, flowers make for stunning natural centerpieces, but most cut flowers that you buy from the grocery store are not eco-friendly. According to The Huffington Post, 78 percent of cut flowers are imported into the United States from South America, from countries whose records on workers' rights are less than stellar. Add in the cost of pesticides, travel, and refrigeration, and you have a small decoration with a major environmental cost.

Serve and Eat With Reusable Silverware and Flatware

Plastic cutlery and paper plates may be handy, but they'll pile up in landfills after your party has ended. Instead, use your everyday flatware and silverware to serve the guests at your party. Not only will you give your guests knives and plates that they can actually eat comfortably with, but you'll reduce your party's waste.

Skip Bottled and Canned Drinks and Use Pitchers Instead

Instead of filling the dumps with canned sodas and bottles of water, serve tap water and homemade juices in pitchers and giant drink dispensers. Give your guests reusable glasses to drink out of instead of single-purpose, wasteful containers.

Serve Local Wine, Beer, and Spirits

Find nearby wineries, breweries, and distilleries and plan your drink menu around their offerings. Drinking local cuts down on the ecological costs of imports and helps to support regional businesses, which is a win-win situation for any host.

Plan a Vegetarian Menu

Raising animals for food increases carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Eating vegetarian helps to cut down on the ecological impact of feeding our world by reducing the need for farmed animals.

Shop for Local Food

Supporting regional farmers not only pumps money back into the local economy and allows you to know exactly what you're buying and from whom, but it reduces the transportation costs and emissions of your fruits, vegetables, and meats.

Cook Your Own Dishes

Buying things like frozen appetizers and packaged cakes may be huge time savers, but these pre-made foods are filled with chemicals and allergens and require tons of manpower and energy. Instead, buy local ingredients and make your own food.

Use Farm-to-Table Caterers

If you're throwing a bigger event, like a wedding or anniversary party, and are going for a caterer, make sure they serve a farm-to-table menu. These local caterers will not only have higher quality ingredients, but they're also environmentally-friendly.

Entertain Kids With Eco-Friendly Games

Encourage kids to play outside at your party. Games like hopscotch, foursquare, and hide and seek don't require much more than some chalk and a desire to run around outdoors. If you want to instill a love of nature and hiking in the children at your gathering, put together an environmental scavenger hunt.

Encourage Recycling and Composting

Instead of throwing all of your waste in a giant trash bag, separate everything into trash, recyclables, and compost. We all know why recycling is good, but composting food scraps and decomposable paper goods helps to enrich the soil with much-needed nutrients.

Skip Goodie Bags

Instead of filling up plastic bags and paper containers with candies and treats, give your guests an eco-friendly grab bag at the end of your event. Native wildflower seeds, small saplings, or a small donation to an environmental cause in each guest's name all make for thoughtful parting gifts.

Share Leftovers

Instead of tossing your leftovers or allowing them to fester in the back of your fridge, send them home with guests. Not only will this reduce your amount of food waste, but it'll also send your friends home with a smile.

Sell Unused Items After Your Party

Everything from candleholders to vases to table number signs can find new life with other hosts and hostesses. Sites like Tradesy are great for getting rid of old party gear without having to toss it in the trash.