How to throw a waste-free party

Using reusable containers can help minimize waste.

Parties can mean big fun, but they can also mean stress on the environment. Thankfully, you don’t have to take the fun out of planning to keep your garbage from overflowing. You can entertain family and guests without leaving a heavy footprint. It just requires a little pre-planning and setting yourself up with durable goods. Read on for six quick tips to help reduce the waste at your next big function.

Party location can be anywhere from the family home to a park, theater or church, depending on your needs. If the party isn’t going to be held at your home, ask the venue staff about their management of recycling, composting and trash for your party. Stress your desire and need to have these items taken care of in the greenest way possible. You may have to set these stations up on your own, so be sure you know what is expected of you.

Invitations can simply be created via an event on social media or evite invitation to email to friends and relatives. If you’d still like to send paper invitations out to the most important guests, or those who aren’t available through email, be sure to check for recycled paper options when buying your invitations. Many companies have recycled paper stock options for you.

Decorations can be easy and simple.

  • Hang family photos for guests to reminisce.
  • Buy potted plants that you can use in your garden after the party is done.
  •  Reuse things like canning jars and eclectic assortments of vases or dishes you have collected through the years.
  •  Go to places like party rental stores or bridal consignment shops that rent or sell decorative items, including linens, vases, candles and silk flowers all at great prices.
  • Skip the balloons, they can be a large problem for our wildlife and waterways if they get broken or float away.Servingware can be tricky – how do you serve a large group of people when you aren’t sure of attendance numbers?
  • For starters, opt for reusable plates and silverware to minimize waste.
  • Borrow from friends and family — that can be a no-cost item for your party.
  • Check with party rental stores for renting the items you need.
  • Pick up some items from a local thrift shop.Food and drinks can help you with reducing the number of throw-away items you need to buy for your celebration.
  • Plan out your menu for finger foods to eliminate the need for individual utensils.
  • Go to stores where you can buy your ingredients for your meals in bulk or large quantities.
  • Order bakery products or deli items ahead of time to help eliminate some of the plastic you would come home with if you bought buns by the dozen instead.Recycling and composting doesn’t have to feel like a chore for your guests.
  • Place clearly marked containers to the side and out of the main traffic area for your guests to use.
  • Use different shaped containers to help distinguish disposal types.
  • Make sure to also mark the top of your containers, as marking only the sides will often result in guests putting things in the wrong container, even with the best of intentions.

And finally, don’t forget the most important tip of all: Have fun!


—Information and photo provided by Hennepin County.