How to throw an eco-friendly party! December 12, 2017 03:07

As sure as there will be carols on repeat and presents under the tree, parties are no doubt a firm calendar fixture in the month of December!  Unfortunately, with the big guest lists and festive decorating, waste too can seem to be an inevitable feature of this season - but it need not be so!  With our simple tips below, you can party on without too much eco-guilt (sorry, can't help with the calorie-related type here...) -
1.  Keep invitations virtual.

Paper invites may come with old-fashioned charm, but sending an email invitation or creating a Facebook event is perfect for doing the trick and dealing with all follow-up logistics (such as tracking RSVPs and updating event details), without generating any paper waste!  There are even sites which offer fancy e-vites, for those of you who want something more formal.  

2.  Make your decor more sustainable.

One-time-use decorations can be so wasteful - why not try decorations that can be reused instead, like real tablecloths and cloth napkins?  They may cost more than disposable tablecloths and napkins at first, but will save you money when used again and again over a few events.  And cleanup is just a load of laundry - not all that bad!

Also, look into using elements from nature for your party decor!  I collected fallen frangipani flowers to decorate a party once (they look quite fresh if you pick them up that morning), and it really added a special touch.

If your decorations (one-time-use or otherwise) have survived the party in relatively good shape and you no longer require them, consider giving them away as a set in giveaway groups!  

3.  And while we're at decor, ditch those balloons.

Latex and Mylar balloons (even those labelled "biodegradable") can harm wildlife when animals ingest the balloon pieces or become entangled in the string, so swap out balloons for large tissue paper pom-poms instead!  

[And if your child insists on taking one when at a party, make sure she disposes of it responsibly!]

4.  Use real dishes.

The most obvious way to reduce party waste is to ditch those disposable plates, cups and cutlery.  Bonus: Proper utensils make a better eating experience (no more broken plastic fork tines!).

For events at home, it can be quite feasible to avoid disposable dishware by investing in an extra set of dishes and cutlery - there are some very reasonably-priced ones to be found even at departmental stores.  (All these party supplies can be kept neatly away in a small box when not in use.)  I have also been known to borrow from family (or a friendly neighbour) for a bigger party.  And, unless you are hosting a very fancy party, I'm sure no one would mind mismatched utensils!  (That would actually make it far easier to identify which cup was yours...)

Consider also using a large drink dispenser, rather than individual drink cans or cartons - and no straws!

Image of Christmas party


Or, if you simply cannot cobble together extra serving ware, get creative!  Think banana leaves as 'plates' for a tropical Christmas theme (buy them at wet markets) or serving finger food that don't require cutlery!

Yes, using the real thing does mean a bit of extra cleanup - but, if you think about it, the reduction in convenience is certainly well outweighed by the environmental impact of the manufacturing, packaging, transporting and waste-processing involved for disposable options.

And if you have been getting biodegradable disposables for your parties to make yourself feel better, know that biodegradables need the right conditions to actually biodegrade - conditions best found in commercial composters, and definitely not in Singapore's waste management system (where rubbish is incinerated!).

5. Rethink gifting.

A growing trend in eco-conscious parties is to specify no presents in the invitation, and to accept donations for a chosen charity at the party instead.  Think about how lovely it would be to send a thank-you note to your guests after the party is done to tell them about the good that you have collectively done.  

We think it's a brilliant idea, given how gifting can actually be a significant source of waste during the festive period - especially with I-don't-even-know-who-I'm-buying-for Secret Santa games!  Just think about all those unwanted presents you've received!

6. Don't forget to encourage responsible waste disposal.

A simple (but not insignificant) change would be to provide separate garbage bags for trash and recyclables, so your guests can also do their part in waste separation!  But hey, if you've implemented most of the tips above, hopefully, there won't be too much waste to dispose of!

And now that you're all set for some real eco-conscious partying, have a ball this December!

If you are looking to make this festive period more sustainable, check out our post on how to have a greener Christmas.