COVID-19 has upended life as we know it — and that includes parties and corporate events. While it has been extremely difficult having to spend so much time apart, this past year has given all of us the chance to reimagine parties and events in a major way. Many life events and celebrations moved to Zoom in 2020. Others were rescheduled, scaled down, or cancelled altogether.
One thing I’ve been thinking about during the pandemic is what we can all do to make parties more sustainable moving forward.
Throwing an Eco-Friendly Party
Here at Sweeping Dimensions, we love our festive in-office celebrations; we’re also known around Chicago for our absolutely epic zero-waste lobby events.
For a long time now, I’ve been passionate about bringing sustainable principles to these celebrations and gatherings — and I wanted to share some of my favorite practices and ideas with our amazing readers!
When we’re able to come together in person again, make sure sustainability remains high on your list of party essentials. Here are five simple, impactful steps for a more eco-friendly party or corporate event:
1.) Skip the Waste With Digital Invitations
A more environmentally friendly party starts well before your guests come to the door. In fact, you can start being more eco-friendly by rethinking how you invite your guests in the first place! For a truly green event, you can’t beat inviting guests online. This completely sidesteps the need for emissions or materials from sending paper goods in the mail. There are also a ton of fun and user-friendly sites that make it easy to design, send, and track responses for your big event virtually, including Punchbowl, eVite, and Paperless Post.
If you do send traditional invites, use environmentally friendly paper goods, such as fully recycled paper products or mailers made from plant-based materials like bamboo or cotton.
For a really novel idea, have you ever heard of seed paper or plantable paper? This incredible material is fully eco-friendly and biodegradable and comes studded with seeds. Once recipients get the invitation, they simply plant the whole card in the ground or in a pot of soil. The paper then degrades away and the seeds grow into flowers, herbs, or greens for a totally waste-free cycle. Check out plantable paper options from Botanical Paperworks and Bloomin.
2.) Rethink Your Partyware
When throwing a big event, many people immediately turn to plastic partyware, including plates, napkins, cups, and flatware. Unfortunately, single-use plastic products are incredibly harmful to the environment — particularly our rivers and oceans.
Instead of relying on plastic, use your own reusable plates and silverware. Using your own dishes and flatware is a much more environmentally friendly practice, especially if you conserve water with an energy efficient dishwasher.
If you’re tired of doing dishes but still want to save the world from plastic, look for fully compostable single-use products, such as partyware made from bamboo or other plant-based materials. You can find some inspiration on ecopartytime.com or greenpartygoods.com.
3.) Skip the Unsustainable Decorations (AKA “The No Balloons” Rule)
Decorating for a party can be really, really fun. Choosing the right decor sets the mood for the whole event, while giving you a chance to flex your creative muscles.
Next time you are responsible for setting up a party or corporate event, be truly creative by saying “no thank you” to single-use plastic decorations, such as streamers or signs. These materials tend to get thrown away, where they rot slowly in landfills and leech harmful microplastics into our environment.
Similarly, be very mindful about using balloons. While some balloons purport to be recyclable, these products may still be treated with harmful chemicals. Studies have shown that latex and mylar balloons can both pose a significant hazard to wildlife. What’s more, helium is an unsustainable resource that is being rapidly depleted.
Instead of going store-bought, try upcycling products you already have at home. Do you have any glass containers or other materials you can repurpose into beautiful decor? Or flex your green thumb and decorate with flowers and plants, which can be used to make stunning wreaths or garlands. You could also set the mood with creative indoor/outdoor lighting.
4.) Serve a Mindful Menu
Food waste is a huge problem in its own right. If you plan to serve food at your soiree, there are simple steps you can take to make things more friendly for the planet — without busting your budget.
One simple idea is to focus on finger foods, rather than a plated meal. This requires less partyware, and often leads to less waste at the end of the night.
You can also make a difference by serving a menu that is plant-based and locally sourced. This way, you can present your guests with a healthy and mouthwatering meal that has less environmental impact overall. When you buy local, you cut down on the environmental costs associated with transportation, while helping invest in green practices and environmental stability in your area. Similarly, even swapping a few animal proteins for plants can save an enormous amount of water and significantly cut down on emissions.
When you do have leftovers, compost whatever you can — or see if a local organization accepts prepared food, which can go out into the community to feed those in need.
5.) Make Up a Sustainable Goodie Bag for Your Guests
Finally, think of ways to keep the sustainable theme alive even after your guests have left with eco-friendly goodie bags. Start with the bag itself, and opt for a green material like canvas, muslin, or cotton rather than plastic.
Similarly, rather than plastic tchotchkes, give out eco-friendly presents such as
- Seeds and plant starters
- Homemade sweet treats
- Eco-friendly clothing
- Natural soaps
- Natural candles
- Compostable paper/pens/art supplies
- Reusable home products (e.g., a metal straw, portable metal silverware, a canvas grocery bag)
Sweeping Dimensions: A Cleaning With a Conscience
Here at Sweeping Dimensions, we focus on handling all sorts of cleaning and housekeeping projects, so you can focus on the other things that matter most to you. We make a point of always having sustainable and environmentally friendly cleaning solutions on hand and ready to use.
The more people we can bring together in our mission for a greener world, the better off all of us will be!
So, if you ever have a question about comparing cleaning products, or making a green switch in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch – I am always happy to talk shop! At SDCS, we are sincerely passionate about these issues, dedicated to finding real solutions, and always eager to keep the conversation going.
Want to set up a green cleaning for your Chicago home? Don’t hesitate to reach out for your FREE service estimate!
Looking to exchange eco-friendly party ideas, or share how you’re going to focus on sustainability this year? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch via email or on social media to let us know your thoughts.