Most of us love throwing parties for so many occasions from birthdays to festive holidays, some times just for the pure joy of having our loved ones over. Here are some simple and mindful steps to do so in a way that is earth-friendly yet without having to compromise on your fun, hospitality and budget. To celebrate the big moments in our lives we unknowingly use a lot of materials that pollute our earth and cause damage for many generations to come. Here are some ideas to be more eco-friendly and party guilt-free!
Invitation: Thanks to technology many of us have already switched to e-invites, Whatsapp GIFs and so on, saving us lots of money and tress in the process. But, if you are the kind who likes to add a personal touch by sending out physical ‘save your dates’ invites or hand written notes, then try these eco ideas besides just recycled paper. There are cards made out of seed embedded recycled paper so that the person receiving it can bury it in a pot of soil and it will sprout into a beautiful plant. There are also paper cards made from animal dung like elephant, rhino, camel and cows (no, these paper don’t smell). Brands like Jelabi, Haathi Chaap and El Rhino are very popular in these categories.
Decor: Balloons are usually the easiest way to decorate a party, but, did you know that although latex, in its natural state, is biodegradable, in its processed commercial state is not easily biodegradable? They usually end up in domestic garbage which isn’t good for the landfills neither for the animals that may accidentally eat them. So if you plan to throw an eco-friendly party, balloons are a big No No!
Using cloth buntings, streamers and banners are a great way to decorate. Also they are easy to maintain and can be reused for other events. Jute is another versatile material that can be used in innovative ways. Paper pompoms, buntings and streamers too are easily available in most decor stores based on your party theme choose them over the plastic or metalized paper ones.
For an evening event LED lights, candles, paper lanterns and diyas make great decoration.
Balloon waste after a party
Paper decorations and buntings
Cutlery and crockery: The Styrofoam and plastic plates, cups and spoons we use at most gatherings don’t decompose for at least 500 years to as long as 2 million years or more! Even some of the disposable ‘paper plates’ that we get in the market are usually made up of Tetra-pack. Tetra-packs are actually paper fused with metal which cannot be easily recycled and so they go straight to our landfills. But, fear not, we have many wonderful options in the market which will solve this crucial part of all parties.
For a small gathering, there is nothing more elegant than bringing your best crockery out and having a good meal. If you feel you do not have enough cutleries and crockery, do not hesitate to borrow some from a loved one just for that evening. Mis-matched crockery has a very ‘English tea party’ charm to it.
The best options for disposable cutlery are the ones made out of natural materials like banana fibre, areca nut palm, sugar cane fibre etc. Don’t worry, you won’t look like you are serving prasad at a temple. There are many start-ups like Adaaya Farm which make very contemporary and sturdy designs that are suitable for the kind of food that you are serving. Some brands even make cups and spoons with these natural materials. Spoons and fork made out of wood and bamboo are also available. Edible spoons are a lot of fun for kids parties.
Choose paper straws over plastic ones, they are not only eco-friendly but are a lot cuter and come in many designs based on your theme.Bamboo , glass and stainless are other options for straws.
If there is a possibility, choose cloth napkins over paper napkins.
Stainless steel straws
Bamboo Straws (Shop here)
Food: No amount of planning and estimating can solve the issue of left-overs at your party. For smaller parties you may buy some natural fibre based take away boxes and doggy-bag the left overs for your friends. Go old-style by packing left-overs in reusable stainless steel containers. Gives you one more reason to meet your friends when they return your container and one never knows what goodies they may reciprocate with when returning it to you! For large parties it is always good to be in touch with a nearby orphanage or old age home where the consumable left-over food can be sent immediately.
Most importantly make sure all the half eaten and unfinished food is composted along with your natural fibre plates so soon your garden will be well nourished!
Cutlery out of palm
Sugarcame biomass based food boxes by EkoWok
Gifts: At most parties we receive gifts that we usually don’t need or already have and they just end up sitting in our homes for years doing nothing. The best way to avoid this wasteful situation is to create a registry of the things that you really require and distribute that to those who wish to gift you something for the occasion. You could also request for cash gifts, gift vouchers or even a donation to your favourite charity.
While it comes to return gifts at your party there are endless eco friendly options. But gift-wrapping your eco friendly gift in metalized paper will be sacrilege. Try out gift wraps made of block printed newspapers. They look really cool! Similarly there are gift bags made of up-cycled printed newspaper, recycled paper and elephant poo paper. Brands like ABCD, The Second Life and Haathi Chaap have many cool choices.
Reusuable cloth bags or ‘surukku pai‘ made out of cute cotton cloth designs makes it a bonus gift by itself.
Gift wrap waste after a party at my neighbour’s
Giftwrap made out of newspaper by The second Life (Shop here)
Alcohol bottles: The after effects of most rocking parties are the empty booze bottles and not just the hangover. Do not throw the empty glass bottles. Just wash them and keep them aside. There are many interesting ways to reuse or up-cycle these pretty glass bottles (check out our previous blog post on upcycling glass bottles) one easy way is to fill them with water and put a plant in it. Voila! You just turned your house greener! The very last option for these bottles would be to save it up until your friendly neighbourhood Raddiwala or waste paper-man comes to pick them up for recycling.
Various ways to upcycle glass bottles (Shop here)