This summer make your get together eco friendly
Whether it’s a graduation party, a Memorial Day picnic or a summer wedding, you can put together an eco friendly party that’s easy and won’t break your budget. Follow a few simple tips as you’re planning and enjoy your party—guilt-free.
“Having less food but with more people to share time with is what is important in a picnic.”Unknown
A DIY party can be full of fun but also waste—the plastic cups and silverware, along with paper plates and napkins often end up in the landfill. For a sustainable party, one of the most eco friendly ways to serve food is on either compostable or reusable plates. But which is better? First let’s review the three Rs of sustainability and then dive into compostable products and menu ideas for your gathering.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle….and Rethink!
In order to clean up our planet for the next generations, Elly Ventura of World Centric, a certified B-Corporation that makes compostable packaging and disposable foodservice ware, suggests consumers follow the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle –and adds a fourth R–Rethink.
“It is imperative that consumers use their buying power to benefit those who will come after them. In today’s economy, it is both fortunate and unfortunate that there are so many options available. That old saying “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” still holds up today. Did you know that they are listed in order of action?…We even like to add a fourth “R” to the beginning …RETHINK.”
Elly Ventura, Resource Recovery Manager, World Centric
- RETHINK – Ask yourself if you even need to purchase the item to begin with
- REDUCE – Buy less and use what you have to its fullest value.
- REUSE – Find ways to use unexpected items more than once.
- RECYCLE – Sort it correctly to ensure that it gets managed properly whether that is recycled or composted (aka organics recycling).
One way you can rethink or reduce your consumption when planning a party is to nix the decorations and serve finger foods to minimize the need for cutlery. But what about plates–should you reuse, recycle or compost?
Are Reusable Plates Really More Eco Friendly?
You might think that reusable products are more eco friendly than disposable products. It turns out it’s a more complicated equation. According to Ventura, although compostable plates are single use, they benefit the environment by fitting into a circular economy.
“Compostable products are designed to close-the-loop; they are intended to be turned into compost when their use has expired. Compost contributes positively to the state of our climate crisis. Reusable products, while intended to be used multiple times, are not commonly designed for sustainable end-of-life options. Therefore, in most cases, are essentially delaying an inevitable entry into a landfill. Landfills are one of the top five emitters of powerful greenhouse gasses – compost sequesters them…Disposable products are a sustainable option when reusables are not available or practical for the scenario.”Elly Ventura, Resource Recovery Manager, World Centric
It turns out, when buying products for a get together, eco friendly compostables are a good choice. Shop at home to see what you already have to reuse and if the gathering small enough, use your own dish ware, or for an informal potluck, ask guests to bring not only a dish, but their own place settings as well.
Recycle with Eco Friendly Compostables
You can’t recycle paper products that have been contaminated with food, but with a little effort, you can compost them. Zero Waste Memoirs advises that paper napkins that are not too heavily printed or oily can be composted. Additionally, paper plates can be composted if they are made from recycled paper or some other compostable material like the discarded sugarcane fiber and wheat straw found in World Centric plates. Check the label for indications that the plates are compostable. They must also be free of any wax or plastic coating. Finally, before you toss paper plates into the compost pile, clean them of any food residue and tear or cut them into smaller pieces.
If you aren’t able to compost in your backyard you can use a countertop composter or a commercial facility or service. Check with your municipality to see if they collect compostables. Mom’s Organic Markets have compost drop off bins at some locations. When using a composting service make sure you check the requirements:
“If commercial composting programs are available in your area, check their website for items that are acceptable in that local system. They will likely list specific requirements for all materials they accept, including disposable or compostable foodservice ware products.”Elly Ventura, Resource Recovery Manager World Centric
Ventura recommends these resources for finding composting options in your community:
What to look for in Compostables
When buying disposable serving products, Ventura suggests finding a sustainably certified brand that you trust and then “buy that label for as many items as possible.” She recommends looking for B-Corps certification on the label or finding certified products at bcorp.com. There are other sustainable certifications for paper products as well.
“A good mark to look for is the Forest Stewardship Council, FSC. This organization ensures thatElly Ventura, Resource Recovery Manager, World-Centric
any product using its label supports responsible forestry practices. FSC projects prevent
deforestation, support fair wages and working conditions, protect plants, animals and humans
that may be impacted by the harvesting of trees.”
Besides organically recycling (composting) your serving ware, consider buying your beverages–everything from wine to water–in aluminum cans. 90% of recycled cans get turned into new beverage cans.
Rethink Your Menu
After you decide on your serving ware, start planning your menu. Remember to keep it simple so you can enjoy spending time with your guests. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Serve finger foods so you can reduce cutlery, encourage your guests to eat and increase enjoyment. Studies show that eating with your hands increases both the pleasure of eating and the amount you eat. Even some upscale restaurants are following this trend. So get ready to pop a perfect pepper or a sweet cherry tomato in your mouth and enjoy a burst of flavor.
- Make muffin frittatas from odds and ends in your fridge. Check out this muffin tin veggie frittata recipe from Toaster Over Love or these cream cheese and veggie egg bites.
- Put out sandwich fixings or make finger sandwiches
- Visit your farmers market to get the most delicious in-season produce. Make a colorful veggie tray and flavorful fruit platter.
- Save food from going into the landfill by serving upcycled foods like upcycled chips and condiments. Look for foods that are Upcycled Certified. Upcycling involves transforming food items that might otherwise be discarded into new, value-added products. Read more about the value of upcycled food in Softly’s How to Stop Your Food Waste
Before we dive into the eco friendly party supply suggestions, please note that this blog contains affiliate links. By using these links, you can support the improvement of Softly at no extra cost to you.
– Eco Friendly Party Options Available on Amazon –
Suitable for omnivores and vegans alike this spicy tomato relish from Rubies in the Rubble adds roasted Indian spices to funny looking tomatoes for a delicious condiment for sandwiches or chips. Because Rubies in the Rubble is a certified B Corporation you can enjoy this relish guilt-free, knowing that you’re supporting a brand dedicated to making a positive impact.
Uglies Kettle Chips proudly hold the Upcycled Certified label, showcasing their commitment to sustainability. These chips use potatoes that may not meet conventional aesthetic standards due to factors like size, blemishes, or sugar content. However, these “imperfect” potatoes result in a unique and deliciously crispy, kettle-cooked flavor that sets them apart. With Uglies Kettle Chips, you not only indulge in a delightful snack but also contribute to reducing food waste and supporting sustainable practices.
These eco friendly plates are crafted from discarded sugarcane fiber and wheat straw, completely free from plastic or wax coatings. What’s even better is that they are fully compostable, breaking down in less than 90 days, leaving behind no harmful residues. In addition, the manufacturer, World Centric, is a certified B Corporation, committed to meeting high social and environmental standards.
This party kit proudly bears the certification of the Forestry Stewardship Council, ensuring its commitment to responsible sourcing and environmental conservation.The paper plates are made from 100% sugar cane fibers and the cutlery are made from cornstarch, which is plant-based and eco-friendly, able to be dissolved by the environment. With this comprehensive party-ware set, you can comfortably serve up to 50 guests while making a positive impact on the planet.
These vibrant napkins are not only washable and reusable but also incredibly durable, making them perfect for any occasion, be it a lively party or an intimate get-together. Moreover, they have been certified as Made in Green by Oeko-Tex, ensuring their environmentally friendly production and materials.
Serve your drinks with style in this crystal glass beverage dispenser. The practical sturdy base and lead-free stainless steel spigot help with smooth dispensing. It even includes a small chalkboard to label your special drink. Additionally, this product has received certification from the Forestry Stewardship Council, attesting to its adherence to responsible sourcing and sustainable forestry practices. Serve your beverages in style while supporting environmentally conscious craftsmanship.
Don’t have space for a backyard compost pile? Compost right on your countertop and reduce weekly garbage by 80% by conveniently scraping compostable table scraps into the Lomi. It’s certified climate neutral by ClimatePartner, ensuring your sustainable contribution.
By planning ahead and following the 4 Rs of sustainability—RETHINK, REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE—you will find it easier to minimize waste and focus on your guests.