15 tips for an eco-friendly new years party
Christmas, New Years, Birthday Parties, there is most likely always a lot of trash involved.
But there is always something you can change, something you can control. And it doesn’t matter if you organize your own party or you go out to a private party from your friends or you go out to party somewhere in town.
The first rule of a zero waste/Low waste party is:
Make it simple! Don’t get caught up in the most extreme ideas and decorations… Mostly a simple theme is enough and beautiful. Let’s be honest, isn’t it more important to have a good and positive atmosphere at your party than extreme fancy (and mostly single use) decorations? You might have a lot of clothing and accessories already. Use them instead of buying plastic single use ones.
The second rule is:
Ditch the single use table ware! This will most likely be the biggest portion of trash after a party. In the states, about 40 bn plastic utensils and more than 780.000 tons of plastic and styrofoam cups are discarded annually.
The third rule:
If you are invited to a party bring your zero waste travel set with you. You’ll never know….
2) Reusable cups
A party is mostly not planned spontaneous. So normally you will have a little bit time for planning. If you are throwing parties regularly you could buy a bunch of second hand cups (glass, plastic, stainless steel, ceramic) you could collect glass jars. If you don’t have money for that or not enough time to go for a second hand hunt, ask your friends and neighbors to collect their empty glass jars for you. It won’t last long until you’ll have a bunch of jars.
If you are invited to a party and you don’t know if they have reusables bring your own reusable cup*/jar. (If you know you will party hard don’t bring your favorite cup. You might forget it somewhere;)
3) Reusable cutlery
- If you are planning a party, and you don’t have enough cutlery and don’t want to buy some stainless steel cutlery*, ask around if you can rent or borrow some.
- Look around in thrift stores. You will most likely find a lot of cutlery you can buy for little money.
- Ask your friends to bring their own cutlery and explain why.
- You could also ask friends who throw parties regularly too if they would like to share a bunch of (party) reusables. So you buy them together and someone might have enough space to store it and you can use it if you throw a party.
- If you really want/need disposable cutlery, choose wooden ones*..
4) Reusable plates
Instead of single use plastic plates or paper plates that are lined with plastic, you could use reusables. (Choose your favourite material: bamboo*, ceramic, stainless steel*, melamine*, plastic, wheat-plastic*, ….)
Again, you could borrow from family and friends, or buy a bunch second hand.
Ask your friends to bring their own plate.
If you offer finger food only you don’t even need bis plates, but just reusable napkins or smaller cork or wooden plates.
5) Table Cloth
Paper table cloth is easy right? Spots? Just throw it away… A bit more eco friendly are linnen or cotton tablecloth* that can get washed. You can also use them if you make a picnic in the park in summer.
Or if you or you family still have plastic reusable table cloth use them.
Say no to plastic confetti: Make your own confetti out of dried leaves or paper.
Use natural decoration for the table: You can find heaps on a walk through the forest or just get some nice pot plants. You can find heaps of inspirations on pinterest.
Easy peasy: use reusables if you throw a party or if you go out. No need for paper towels or single use paper napkins.
You could buy some second hand fabrics and sew some yourself (even nice as a gift for your guests) or buy some second hand or new ones made from cotton or hemp, or linnen*..
No need to buy new stuff for a party outfit. First take a look in your or your friends closet. Maybe you have a lot of stuff in your own closet or you can borrow a dress from your friend.
Take a look for a second hand dress that you might like to wear more than just once.
And then in some cities there are stores where you can borrow all kind of dresses, shoes, etc.
Refuse so buy any kind of cheap plastic sun glasses, hats, etc for a party. They most likely just get trashed…
Instead of buying sugary plastic bottled drinks, offer self made lemonades, or just offer “pimped” tap water in big reusable jugs* (with slices of cucumber, lemon, menthe leaves..etc).
For alcoholic drinks buy beer in glass bottles (reusables if you can) or big jugs.
Wine from glass bottles. And you could make your own punch.
Again, if you need disposables choose the real natural ones like wheat straws* or paper straws*.
(DON`T buy the bio-plastic ones that are named “compostable plastic straws”. Not even if they are made from bio-plastic! These are theoretically compostable yes, BUT only compostable in high tech compost facilities. Great? Well they are NOT allowed in most compost facilities. You hear the “greenwashing!?”)
If you can, cook with local, organic food. Buy from bulk if you have the possibility.
If you can’t try to avoid plastic packaged food just buy the biggest bag. Instead of many small snack packages, get one big pack!
Opt for vegetarian/vegan food.
Great food for parties are snacks like hummus, babaganoush, couscous salad, etc…
If you get some baguette from the bakery try and bring a big carton to avoid the paper bags.
If you like to gift your guest: you could sew personalized reusable napkins, or everybody is getting a reusable straw. Or you could bake something special or make pralines, etc.
In case of left over food, you could fill it into empty pickle/jam/ etc. glass jars and give it to your guests when they’re leaving. Ask them to bring a container in case of left overs.
Or borrow them your reusable food boxes. If you go to a party yourself, take some leftovers in your reusable cup with you, or bring a container just in case;)
13) Refuse fireworks:
Fireworks are polluting the air, and making loads of trash. They also scare a lot of wild life and pets, and even kill birds.
And the working conditions in the factories where they produce fireworks are awful and a lot of children are working in these factories too..
But we don’t need to buy fireworks, we can make our own choice.
So instead of hosting your own firework but you still like to watch it, try and take a look if there is a city firework somewhere you could visit.
To avoid fireworks you could also make a fire ritual.
Everybody writes wishes and new years resolutions on (recycled) paper and then you could make a small fire outside (in a fire bowl) and then burn it together at midnight.
You could also make some little boats out of natural materials (please no plastic strings or glue) and let if float on the river and make a wish as they go.
I know it is not common to buy fireworks in a store in a few countries. But here in Europe in many countries it is totally normal and people/kids fire them already a few weeks before new years eve, and continue during January. In Berlin you I always were very anxious walking around in my neighborhood because teenager and others threw fire crackers around on the streets, and then you actually can´t see the fireworks at midnight really, because the air is full of firework smog…
It is great though to see that here in Germany this year (2019) a few big supermarkets and stores already are stopping to sell them. Advertising with animal care, environmnetal issues, etc. Others advertise they are stopping to sell them next year. So I do see hope for (private) firework free new years eves in the future.
14) New years traditions:
Every country has their own traditions. Some of them are more eco friendly than others. If you find your tradition to be not very eco friendly just try and start your own tradition or find a more eco friendly alternative.
Mostly a google search is all you need.
Like before you buy New Years Eve Crackers with plastic stuff inside that no one ever uses, make you’r own.
Try Tarot Cards or other stuff where you don’t create trash.
15) Clean Up:
Help to clean up your neighborhood in the next morning. In most cities the city will provide clean ups after New Years, but I’ve seen cities where the trash from the biggest Party of the year was flying around for weeks after New Years. And a lot of places, like parks, or along river fronts won’t get cleaned quickly (or not at all by the city) because they focus on the main roads, not on nature. And the firework rockets will get down somewhere eventually….
Have a great New Years Eve and an awesome start into the new year!
Tell us about how you reduced your trash this new years years eve!