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An eco-friendly party is a social gathering in which respect for the environment helps shape and inform the party plan. Any kind of party—from a birthday party to a wedding to a block party to a slumber party—can become an eco-friendly party through thoughtful planning. As a rule, eco-friendly parties work best if they’re planned with that in mind from the start.
The party location and transportation is an important area for eco-friendly party planners to consider. For a block party, nobody has to travel, but how do you have an eco-friendly wedding, especially if you have guests from other countries? One idea is to ask those traveling from afar to reduce their carbon footprint as a wedding present. The airline JetBlue, for example, partners with Carbonfund.org to help fliers balance the emissions produced by their flight. If your guests are coming from a little ways away, perhaps carpooling or biking would be an alternative.
The invitations, decorations, and food service are areas in which an eco-friendly party giver can seek to reduce waste and the use of paper. Invitations could be on recycled paper or sent by email, through Facebook or Evite, or by tweets on Twitter. If you decorate with flowers and consign them to the compost heap rather than the garbage when they’ve passed their prime, you’ll be doing a better job for the environment that if you were to employ one-use crepe-paper streamers. Using dishwasher safe plates, cups, and utensils, and cloth rather than paper napkins can also help reduce the large amount of trash that parties can produce.
An eco-friendly party can serve local food and beverages, avoiding the shipping that comes with using non-local food. Purchasing food and beverages in recyclable containers, and storing prepared food in containers rather than covered with plastic wrap or foil avoids waste. Finger food—like nuts,grapes, cherries, and vegetables and dip—and main course that can be held and eaten—like pinwheel wraps, pizza slices or chicken drumsticks—can also help cut down on plates and utensils.
The activities at an eco-friendly party can also contribute to the “green” approach to celebrations. If gifts are given, they can be wrapped in recycled newspaper or attractively decorated, reused paper grocery bags. Lawn sports like bocce, croquet, volleyball, and badminton give guests a bit of exercise and have little impact on the environment. Attractive candle arrangements or ghost stories around a campfire can help preclude using electric lights in many rooms. If you do need indoor lights, compact fluorescent bulbs help reduce energy use.