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When You Entertain, How Do You Green Your Event?

7/16/2010 10:27:36 AM

Tags: eco-friendly hosting, eco-friendly events, question to readers

Picnic TableFrom napkins and servingware to bottles of wine and flowers for the table, there are dozens ways to unintentionally create waste (and find items you can spend money on) when hosting an event — whether you’re entertaining a few friends for dinner or throwing the shindig of the season. Fortunately, there are just as many ways to give a great party (mellow or rockin’) while minimizing the monetary and environmental cost.

One of my favorites is a classic: Replacing disposable napkins with cloth. Given the array of fabrics available — at the local shop or waiting to be repurposed from a (no longer functional) favorite blouse, pillow case, etc. — cloth napkins can be elegant or whimsical, funny or minimalist. And when they’ve run their course on the social circuit, they can be retired as cleaning rags.

Speaking of repurposed, flea markets and garage sales are great places to find unusual, inexpensive silverware, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a set, though I love an eclectic mix of styles to keep things interesting. (For quirky silverware, vintage plates and platters, cloth napkins, and more, you can also check out Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods.)

In addition to reducing one-use items, another obvious trick is to make your edible goodies (or buy them at the farmers market) rather than purchasing store items that often come in multiple layers of packaging. Homemade lemonade or homebrewed beer can make any party, and homemade dishes and beverages make for fun conversation — people will wonder where you found such treats, recipes can be swapped, and all will remember that amazing sweet corn served with homemade butter. Homemade goods are delicious, and including local offerings and sharing your coveted sweet tea recipe adds to the community vibe of your soirée.  

What are your favorite fun ways to throw a party that's low on eco-impact and rich with enjoyment?

Photo by iStockphoto 

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7/21/2010 1:40:55 PM
I love to entertain, and it doesn't have to be expensive or create alot of waste!For the table setting I use plates and glasses & cups gathered from the thrift store!Real plates are sturdy & add a feeling of luxuriousness, easily rinsed & put into a tub for later washing & storage for the next time!I use bed sheets for the table cloths, flowers gathered from my gardens & from friends.Cut a watermelon in half, melon ball or cut up chunks and put back in!Disposable bowl for the composte pile!Use small jrs with wire wrappped around the top for candle holders for the table & to hang strategically around for atmoshere!Prepare lemonade, tea, even Sangria in beautiful glass jugs & bowls for beverages ( no cans , no plastic bottles to dispose of). Smile & enjoy your friends & family!

7/19/2010 12:21:48 PM
We recently had a large multi-family barbecue. With all the kiddies running around, it wasn't practical to use real dishes and glasses, so we purchased biodegradable post-consumer recycled paper products. We also put up an outdoor sink for everyone to wash up with homemade soap and ran the greywater drain out to the garden. I set out three waste bins with picture labels: recycle, compost and the smallest was garbage. Since we have a heavy-duty compost pile all plate scrapings, bones, gristle, corn cobs, etc could go into the compost pail. At the end of the event, it was fairly simple to go through each bin and pick out the few items that were placed improperly... but the pictures really helped folks (young and old) get stuff in the right bin. And, since our blueberries an raspberries are in flush, everyone got to pick their own dessert which we added to some homemade ice cream, yogurt, and fresh cheese that our friend with goats provided.

7/19/2010 9:47:09 AM
Always use real dishes, glasses and utensils. Cloth napkins and tablecloths. Everyone brings a potluck dish (we have a theme luncheon every year). Everyone brings containers to take home leftovers so nothing is wasted. And some of us carpool!

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