• Agnes Shu

How to Throw an Eco-Friendly Party

Parties can be expensive...and bad for the environment. With the growing climate emergency that has just been deemed 18 months away from irreversible damage, leading an eco-friendly lifestyle and minimising waste is more important than ever. This includes parties — but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the fun!

We're all about trying to reduce our waste here at the studio, so we came up with 6 easy ways to make your next party more environmentally friendly.

1. Avoid single-use cutlery

Let’s face it. Single-use cutlery or kitchenware has a simple journey — from the factory to you (the consumer) and then to the landfill (if we’re lucky, a lot of waste ends up in our oceans). This causes unnecessary waste but is an easy fix. When finding your party venue, choose a space with a full kitchen and utensils. If you can’t find one, let the business owners know so they can improve their offerings and be more eco-friendly! You can also bring your own cutlery from home, or consider buying cutlery made from bamboo to reduce your carbon footprint.

glasses and napkins on a table at a party
No single-use cutlery here! (Photo by Markus Spiske (emporausch.com from Pexels)

2. Borrow or exchange party decorations

Take a peek at community forums, Kijiji or Facebook groups to exchange second-hand party decorations (giving the decorations a second life!) This is not only better for the environment, but is often cheaper as well — especially if you have any friends or relatives that can lend you some. Plus, you won’t have to deal with storing the decorations once the party’s over. Feeling extra creative? Make your own eco-friendly decorations! Try to avoid materials such as glitter, confetti, and other microplastics found in conventional party decorations as they are non-recyclable.

Signs are a great option that you can borrow and reuse.

3. Make a donation to charity on behalf of each guest

Earn some kudos among your guests and support a cause you care about at the same time. Donating to charities is extremely important in order to help them stay afloat, so you’ll be helping give back while having some fun. Some of our favourite local environmentally-focused non-profits include the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation (planting trees across the GTA), the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (protecting areas of natural and cultural heritage), and the Greenbelt Foundation (helping local farmers).

4. Skip the wrapping paper

Wrapping paper can be extremely wasteful — after all, it’s usually thrown in the garbage as soon as the gifts are open. Skip the wrapping paper this time and use an alternative instead. This can be anything from old newspapers to maps, or even bandannas or other pieces of cloth (which can serve as an extra gift!) If you end up receiving gifts in wrapping paper, be sure to check with your town or city, as most places recycle paper wrapping paper and gift bags.

5. Make your own juice from concentrate

A fun pre-party activity, this one is not only something kids can help with but is less wasteful when compared to single-serve juice boxes! Frozen juice from concentrate is easy to prepare and can serve roughly 10 - 12 kids per box. Feeling a little fancy? A kitchen pitcher is a great investment if you plan on leading a sustainable lifestyle and making your own juice.

orange juice in a glass pitcher
Skip the drinking boxes and make your own juice!

6. Rethink, Repair, Refuse

We all know the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But what about the last 3? The other 3 R’s — Rethink, Repair and Refuse — can help guide you when planning an eco-friendly party.

Rethink your party dynamic: what is your party about? Do you really need glitter and loot bags to have a great time? Having a fun party and following tradition doesn’t mean you have to create the waste that traditionally comes with it.

Perfectly good items often get thrown away when they are a bit scuffed or broken, propelling the consumerism culture. You can often repair them easily with some online research and DIY skills, or upcycle them into something new -- saving them from thousands of years in a landfill! You can also help repair the system by setting up signs at your party so people know where (and what!) to recycle and compost (this can be your chance to learn how to compost).

Finally, you can simply refuse! When planning your party, make it a point to not buy products that contain palm oil (which can be found in many baked goods) or other ingredients that aren't sustainable, or ask retailers to opt out of unnecessary packaging (let your cake baker know you don't need a plastic container for your cake).

birthday cake and cupcakes on a table
A beautiful and waste-free spread of delicious treats - you can even save the candles to reuse again!

Throwing an eco-friendly party doesn’t have to be stressful — especially if you have a venue that is already eco-friendly and will accommodate your needs! It can be frustrating at times because it’s hard to imagine how one person can make a difference, but it’s a positive step forward. If we all do our part, we can make a difference. All you need is a little preparation ahead of time, and everything else will fall into place. Good luck and party on!

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