A Party for the Planet

Everyone loves a party…but a party that loves the environment is even better. After years of big-party throwing, here are some of my favorite green ideas for the host or hostess with the mostess.


Anyone who has cleaned up after a party knows how time consuming it can be picking up all those bottles and cans and lugging them to recycling.  What you also know is that more often than not, only half of the beverage is consumed.  Try these alternatives: 

  • BEVERAGE COOLERS AND GLASS CARAFES  For outdoor picnics insulated beverage coolers with spouts are perfect for ice water, lemonade, tea, and more. Party-goers can customize their serving size and you’ll be free of all the excess packaging.  For indoor parties, large glass carafes with spouts look great—especially if you float something in there like cucumbers or oranges in water.  Even kids can handle the spouts, and if you opt for lemonade or fresh flavored waters spills won’t be an issue.
  • BULK BEVERAGES If you’re serving beer consider a keg rather than bottles or cans.  Most local craft breweries offer tubs, picnic taps and ice to rent along with your sixtel or half barrel of beer.  You can pour about 41 pints from a sixtel or about 124 pints in a half barrel—and that equates to about 55-165 12oz bottles or cans you won’t be sorting through at the end of the party.  You’ll also find find the tap is a great place for folks to hang out and converse.


There is a painful new trend today toward plastic single serve plates.  They may be leak-proof, but covered in food waste, they almost never get recycled.  Coupled with plastic forks and spoons it’s an environmental nightmare.  Try these alternatives:

  • GLASS PLATES & WICKER HOLDERS I purchased a bundle inexpensive glass plates for a bridal shower 30 years ago and am still using them for big parties. They go with any color scheme and are great indoors or out.  You can find a wide assortment of glass plates online, a fun and eclectic collection at your local antique mall, and super deals at the dollar store.  For picnics wicker plate holders keep lower-impact paper plates from bending and seeping are still a good alternative to plastic.
  • SIVER PLATE Inexpensive Used Silver Plate:  It is easy to find great deals on silver plated utensils at antique malls.  I recently hosted a party for 100 and was able to collect enough assorted silver plated forks and spoons for less than a dollar a piece to handle the whole party—and they look and feel amazing. It is cheaper than renting, and now I’m set for all future parties.  I wish I had done that 30 years ago!


JELLY JARS & PUNCH CUPS Jelly jars make great glassware for parties—almost indestructible and virtually free. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can amass these jars. If you want something a little smaller, check out your local antique malls for glass punch cups.  They are plentiful and can be purchased for a song. 


Be prepared to send your guests home with any excess food. Save up your tubs and lidded packaging in advance of your party., then set out the assortment in the kitchen for one last stop before your guests head out the door.  They’ll be grateful, and you won’t be trying to scarf down all that potato salad before it goes bad.