Green Your Entertaining

If there is one thing I love, it’s a good party. I love to host them. I love to go to them. I love it all, except for one thing: the trash they generate. It’s enough to make you want to call it a night.

Sip The Lights
Photo by: NatashaP 

My company is hosting a big open house this week to celebrate the official grand opening of our new office in Irvine, so green entertaining is on the top of my mind right now.

Here are some tips for hosting a greener gathering that demonstrates style and sustainability:

  • Ditch the disposables – For smaller gatherings, use reusable plates, cups, utensils, and cloth napkins. My guess is that most of us can come up with enough plates, cups and utensils for a gathering under 10 people. If your dinnerware doesn’t match perfectly, so what? Say you are going for the eclectic look. Guests will feel extra special when you treat them to “real” dinnerware.

  • For larger parties, consider borrowing from friends or renting dinnerware. If your party is outside or if renting is not a possibility, skip the disposable plastic for biodegradable dinnerware. There are many varieties of disposable plates, cups, utensils, and even trash bags on the market today that are all totally durable and fully compostable.

  • Pass on the plastic table cloth destined for a lifetime in the landfill for a reusable one made from hemp or organic cotton. 
  • If you throw parties often and have a little room from storage, consider purchasing some inexpensive reusable party supplies. Years ago, I spent about $20 on a couple dozen wine glasses from Ikea. A few times per year, we break them out for a party – our guests enjoy their wine in a real wine glass, we prevent hundreds of disposable cups from entering the landfill, and over the years, we’ve saved money too.

  • Send your invitations electronically. A quick email to friends often works. For more formal invites, Evite makes it easy. As a bonus, no paper invitation to get lost (as it sometimes does at my house), and Evite will automatically send a reminder to guests right before the party, ensuring more RSVP’s.

  • Serve locally-grown, organic food and beverages. For a great selection of organic wine, try For organic recipe ideas, check out the Organic Valley Coop

  • Provide mood lighting with CFL’s, LED white decorative lights, and soy or beeswax candles. 
  • Make it easy for your guests to get their trash in the right bin by placing clearly labeled trash, compost and recycling containers where they're easy to find. For large gatherings, have a few trash-sorting stations so guests don’t have to search to find them.

  • To avoid possible food waste, send guests home with leftovers. You can send your guests home with any leftovers in biodegradable take out boxes.

  • This last tip comes from my husband. For large gatherings go with a keg of beer instead of dozens of bottles or cans. He says I got the “wife of the year” award last Father’s Day for buying him a kegerator. Little did he know I also had a secret hidden agenda – zero- waste. A keg can produce over 100 beers with zero waste, since the empty keg is reused by the brewery.

So for your next event, no matter how small or large the gathering, consider some of these suggestions for hosting a green gathering that won’t leave your guests or the planet with a hangover the next morning.

Learn more about Allison at  

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