It’s your turn to host the New Year’s Eve party. Friends and family will be descending upon your house in their droves, and the mere thought of it leaves you in a cold sweat. You’ve been the eco-friendly poster child for the entire year, but now you’re prepared to toss your green halo in the bin for the sake of convenience.
Rather than capitulate in the face of supposed adversity, use your party as an opportunity to demonstrate just how easy it is to be green. Who knows, you might even convince a few revelers to come over to your side of the fence in the process.
All you need is a plan.
By approaching it mindfully, you’ll ensure that your end of year shindig leaves only the smallest of environmental footprints (we’re talking Tinkerbell as opposed to yeti). You’d be amazed at just how much of a difference you can make to the environment when your decisions are made from an eco-friendly perspective.
Use the phone if you’re only inviting a few people, and email or Facebook for larger groups. Paper invitations are verboten (and so last decade).
Use your home decor to set the scene. Be creative here, this is your chance to finally show off that vase your great aunt gave you as a wedding gift. Whatever you do, skip the trashy store-bought decorations, because they’ll only end up in the trash.
Use cloth table linens and napkins instead of disposable ones. If you’re concerned about the hassle of cleaning them, you can always rent from a party supply company.
Use real crockery, cutlery and glasses if possible. Again, rent if the thought of cleaning a stack of dishes after way too many glasses of bubbly leaves you dizzy. If you absolutely must use disposable items, then buy biodegradable versions made from sugarcane or corn.
Plan a menu that includes local, seasonal, and organic foods, and buy your ingredients from your local farmers’ market or community-supported agriculture delivery. It might be slightly more costly, but the benefits of enjoying fresher, tastier food that has low environmental impact far outweigh the extra money. If you decide to have your party catered, then select a company that uses local, organic ingredients.
If you’re providing alcohol, then find a local microbrewery, distillery or vineyard to buy from. Serve cold drinks from cans instead of plastic bottles because aluminum can be more efficiently recycled than plastic. At the end of the evening serve fair-trade organic tea and coffee brewed with filtered tap water instead of bottled.
Decorate with potted plants rather than cut flowers, which will just die in a few days. Potted plants are often more cost effective, and have the added advantage of being able to be recycled into your garden.
Instead of silly novelties that usually end up in the trash, distribute useful party favors like small saplings or seed packets. Or if your guests aren’t of the green-thumbed variety, make them something edible to take home. A small packet of handmade marshmallows will always be welcome.
Thanks to Angela Brady at National Geographic Green Living for inspiring this post.
The Phantom Forest Team