social gatherings, the green way

I'll admit, I don't host very many (or any) parties. But parties are fun! Especially when held in conjunction with football games on beautiful fall afternoons.

Just like the party my boyfriend held this past Sunday for the Saints-Panthers game. A big TV with the game, a grill and delicious food, a group of friends, and eco-friendly party supplies!

When he had the idea for the party, I jumped into my treehugger mode and set out to find great supplies. I'd found Susty Party a few months ago, but never had the need to order supplies until now. They specialize in compostable and recycled party items, and even have party kits. All their items are made in the USA and are compostable, renewable, non-toxic and are made with fair labor practices.

Within an hour, I'd ordered black plates and natural plates (closest to black and gold), black bowls, black knives, black forks, recycled napkins and recycled cups.

And here's where I have an extra tip for you all: Give yourself enough time to choose ground shipping. Not only is it free if you spend more than $50, it's better than rushing with 3-day (or faster) shipping, which travels by air. I knew I needed everything by the Friday before the game, so I opted for 3-day, but I never claimed to be perfect! I'm still happy that this party had eco-friendly supplies instead of regular disposable plates and forks, even if I had to have them delivered by air.

And here's a small confession. I'd originally ordered actual black and gold plates from Green Party Goods and chosen 3-day shipping there as well. The shipping fees were inching close to equal the cost of the supplies, so I decided to add the plates to my Susty Party order. From this, I saved a decent amount in shipping fees, and all my supplies would then arrive in one box instead of two. That counts for something, right?

Note to self: Don't rush through ordering supplies when hopped up on coffee. You will make silly decisions.

Anyway, the party. Besides ordering sustainable supplies, there are other ways to make your party or social gathering greener:

  • Set up a clearly marked recycling bin, and list what materials can be thrown in. Encourage your guests to USE the bin. Susty Party actually sells pop-up recycling bins, but you could also use an extra trash can, or a bin you have around the house already.
  • Include permanent markers next to the drink station so everyone can label their cup. Encourage guests to use the same cup for refills.
  • Also encourage guests to keep their plate if they go for seconds.
  • If weather/daylight permits, go outside! Then you'll be able to keep the thermostat a little higher, and keep the lights off inside. If the gathering is indoors, make sure your lights are equipped with CFL bulbs.
  • Encourage guests to carpool to cut down on gas consumption and parking issues. Or encourage bike-riding, if it's feasible! (I might be a little obsessed with my new bike...)
  • If your gathering is at night and outdoors, look into solar-powered ambience lights.
  • Choose an alternative for paper invitations. If it's a casual gathering, invite people via email, Facebook events or messages, or text messages. If you want something a bit more than that, look into e-invitations (a few services out there are Punchbowl, Evite, Pingg, and Paperless Post. All offer free options of varying levels.) But, if you'd still prefer a physical paper invitation, choose a service that offers recycled or FSC-certified paper. FSC-certified means the paper is produced by a company compliant with the Forest Stewardship Council, and the paper is sustainably harvested. Moo offers recycled paper, as does Paper Culture and Minted.
So even though the Saints fell short for the second week, the party was a great success. We had too much delicious food and a great group of friends. The plates were a big hit and the recycling bin quickly filled up. A few people spent time outside, and a lot watched the game inside, where we kept the overhead lights off and enjoyed the sunshine streaming through the windows. A few of my friends also bicycled to the party! I suppose green was a stronger color than both black and gold for this party.

And a final note: My boyfriend's cat strongly encourages compostable dinnerware and recycling, even if he refuses to be the spokesmodel. 

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