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Sustainable Celebrations: How to Party Without Plastic

Hey, party people! What’s with all the disposable cutlery, paper plates, plastic table covers and disposable banners? That’s a slew of unnecessary waste in your wake every time you break out the confetti (confetti included)! You can still pump up the jams, clink your glasses and honor your guests without sending all that gunk to a landfill. Check out these paper/plastic alternatives you can re-use each time you’re ready to party + some planning that will keep your festivities eco-friendly, turning every party into a sustainable celebration.

Sustainable Celebrations | How to Party without Plastic. A sustainability blog from Ten Thousand Villages. Image features a handmade silk paper reusable party garland.

Invitations

Post is charming, but the larger your gathering, the more paper waste is created. Try out services like Paperless Post or Greenvelope to send custom e-vites full of personality. Bonus: they often come with an RSVP tracking service.  

Decor

For many, this is the most fun part! It can also be one of the most wasteful if we’re not intentional. Americans have gotten used to the convenience of those dollar store plastic table coverings, paper plates, cups, napkins, plastic cutlery, disposable banners, and a disposable anything-you-can-imagine to turn your child’s birthday party into the wonderland they’re hoping for.  Unfortunately, disposable = landfill fodder. Multiply that times all your child’s birthdays for decades, or every wedding shower you’ve ever thrown and you’ve single-handedly dumped hundreds of gallons of waste into the landfill on your own. Check out these alternatives! 

Going the distance to use dishes and silverware instead of paper/plastic products is always worth it in the end.

Going the distance to use dishware and silverware instead of paper/plastic products is always worth it in the end, but if you absolutely need to use disposables, there are compostable and sustainably produced disposables that would be a better choice than traditional paper/plastic. Try out bamboo cutlery, or any of the biodegradable options from Green Paper Products. When the party is over, make sure you send your compostables to the bin where they belong so they break down properly.  

Food

What’s a party without food? There’s one problem though. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more food reaches landfills than any other type of municipal solid waste, and parties and catered gatherings are a major culprit of food waste. There are steps you can take to mitigate that inevitable waste by making it part of your planning from the start.  

  • If you’re catering, choose a caterer and/or venue who’s invested in sustainability initiatives and may coordinate the donation of any leftovers to a local food pantry.   
  • Utilize Rock and Wrap It Up’s Hungerpedia to help guide you to anti-poverty initiatives that can distribute leftovers appropriately, whether you’ve thrown a massive catered event, or a backyard dinner party.
  • If you’re hosting at home, add composting receptacles near trash bins to collect organic matter and keep it from landfills where it releases methane gases.  
A person in a long dress stands next to a table laid with food. They are outside near a river hosting a sustainable celebration. They're holding a basket tray with glasses of water and lemon on it.

Gift Wrap

We’ve got you covered. Literally. Try out the sustainable, reusable gift wrap from Ten Thousand Villages. We have products ranging from fabric gift bags made from recycled saris in India, to tree-free gift wrap made from jute. All eco-friendly. All beautiful.  

Made from recycled sari fabric

Favors

Whether you’re planning a birthday party or a wedding, favors are a lovely way to thank your guests for being part of your (sustainable) celebration. To avoid plastic trinkets that will ultimately end up (you guessed it) in a landfill, shop for sustainably made items your guests will enjoy long-term use of.  

Thank-you Cards

If you avoided the mass paper use during the invitation phase and would like to share a bit of old-fashioned post with your guests, try a thank-you note on a handmade card from Ten Thousand Villages; many are made from tree-free paper. Every purchase sustains the income of an artisan in a developing country.  

One less way you’re contributing to waste, is one more way you’re contributing to a healthier community. So, party on, party people. 🎉

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Erica Martin

Content Writer for Ten Thousand Villages, Erica’s heart beats for travel, sunshine, campfires and great chai tea lattes. You’ll generally find her in the garden, behind a camera, curled around a good book, or chasing her 3 children who insist upon getting faster and more cunning every year they’re alive. Words bring Erica life, and she’s hoping you’ll excavate something gratifying from hers.

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