Eco-friendly party people
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Date: 21 April, 2011


'Instead of paper serviettes napkins, colourful fabric squares cut from old clothes (use pinking shears to cut down on fraying) make great napkins.'

A royal wedding means street parties but other celebrations also move outside when the sun comes out. How can they be greener? Suzanne Elvidge finds out

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Parties can generate a lot of waste, but whether they are for adults or children, they can be made green, and still be fun.

The invitations

One way to cut down on waste is to send out electronic invitations rather than paper ones – this will save on paper (as well as and time and stress). Ecards can be a nicer option than plain emails. Just remember – don’t advertise the party on Facebook!

The table settings

Disposable plates, glasses and cutlery are convenient, but they do create a lot of waste.

What about buying reusable ones from eBay or seeing if you can get some on Freecycle or Freegle , and then selling them again afterwards, or donating them to a local church or community group?

Pretty mismatched place settings can look really good, especially if you pick a colour or style theme. If you really can’t face washing up after the party, these eco plates can be planted and grow into sunflowers!

Finish the drinks off with biodegradable straws .

Instead of paper serviettes napkins, colourful fabric squares cut from old clothes (use pinking shears to cut down on fraying) make great napkins.

These could be washed afterwards and then reused, made into patchwork, or composted if they are natural fibres.

Children could decorate their napkins with marker pens (try refillable or recycled ones) and take them home as a party gift.

The gifts and decorations

Making your own decorations is an eco alternative – use wrapping paper, newspaper, or recycled card, and recycle it afterwards.

Balloons are traditional at parties, but they can be hazardous to wildlife (especially if they are as part of a balloon release ). Look out for latex balloons, which are biodegradable.

Avoid helium as well – I know it’s fun, but the world’s resources are getting depleted, and it’s a vital gas for medicine and research.

Chinese lanterns look fantastic sailing up into the sky, fuelled by a candle, but make sure that they are wire-free, because the wires can be harmful to livestock, and avoid letting them off near dry hay, straw or standing crops in the summer.

At a children’s party, Instead of buying small gifts for each child to take home, why not suggest a toy swap.

Things can take a little bit of organising (there are hints online) but that way, everyone goes home with ‘new’ toys.

This could work for a grown-up’s party too – perhaps a book swap, or an unwanted gift swap (just make sure that no-one sidles up to you and says, “I gave you that last year!”

If you are going to give party bags (whether for adults or children ), try making them from scraps of fabric , or sheets of newspaper, and put in a small eco gift like a recycled pencil, and a fair-trade biscuit.

Other links

TreeHuggerTV – How To Throw An Eco Party parts 1, 2 and 3

Suzanne Elvidge is a freelance writer and Surefish Ethical Living Editor



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