Easy Zero Waste Party Planning
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
We love to have parties! But by the end of the night we have bags and bags full of trash. Disposable plates, cups, plastic table covers, and cutlery can all add up. A celebration should not create excessive trash. Since we've started to be more mindful of our waste, I thought it would be great to try a zero waste party! My goal was to use what I had & create the least amount of trash as possible.
Less is more with Decor
This particular party was my Annual Galentine's Day party. Click here to see how I throw this awesome party! I reused the banners & decorations from previous years I safely stored in bins for this theme.
Bringing nature inside always work for decor. Fresh flowers in repurposed food jars were placed all over.
Our lemon tree is in full swing so lemons were a central theme. I reused decoration pieces I already had and just set them up differently. No balloons, no streamers, no confetti and NO one even missed it!
I invested in white table cloths that I use for parties instead of plastic table cloths. I also repurposed flat sheets from our bedding for table cloths. No one will know you're using a bed sheet as a table cloth but you!
For dishes I used what I had, thrifted & borrowed. White dishes are great to use for parties. They are easy to find and you can mix & match them with other white dishes. Many people thrift their party dishes too which is a great idea! These plates are actually our everyday dishes. I mixed them with these adorable appetizer bowls & plates I borrowed from a friend. I had this wooden crate and decided to create a dish station with it. The crate also optimized space on the table so there was more space for food. And the rustic vibes added to the decor. Since the party was inside, guests just placed their dishes in the sink. If this was an outside party, it would be a good idea to have a large bucket of some sort for guests to place their dishes in.
Bite Size is Right Size
This 3 tier platter was a great thrift store find! I love how worn & vintage it looks! I added my own white plates that I already had. Serving finger food is perfect for parties.
Anything bite size is my go to for a big crowd. No need for cutlery or even a plate. Your guests can just grab a bite & come back for more!
Create a drink station
A drink station cuts out all the soda cans, water bottles etc...that would normally accumulate during a party. I bought these drink dispensers years ago and they have been used for every party. This wooden crate was used as a shelf for the dispensers & again to optimize space.
These adorable mason jars were used as glassware. The jars will get filled with jams etc..later in the year. Or I may keep them as my "party glassware." I haven't decided yet, but they will definitely be reused! To keep track of everyone's drinks, I simply had everyone write their name on the glass with a dry erase marker. The marker easily wipes off afterwards. I also had water set up as well, but their is really no need for tons of different drink options. Water and a signature drink is plenty! This mimosa bar is so fun & versatile too! (post coming soon about this mimosa bar!)
Sustainability even spilled into my wardrobe. I decided to wear a thrifted a dress! The dress was too big, but I fell in love with the beading & color. So I belted it with a thrifted belt! I love the blouson effect the belt gave!
The moment of truth came at the end of the party. I placed a Trader Joe's bag out for any trash during the party. It wasn't even full! The party was potluck style, so most of the trash came from boxes or bags that guests brought food in. Some of the items could be recycled but not all. I only used glass bottles and recycled them. The flowers went into our composter. And I gave out all of the lemons I used for decor.
While this party was not completely zero waste it was extremely close. Here’s what helped make this party close to zero waste:
1. Use what you have. Repurpose items you already have. I used sheets as tablecloths. Wooden crates were used for a dish station and a drink station. I used mason jars for glassware. Think outside of the box!
2. Opt for nature. I literally went outside and brought in whatever was in season to decorate with. Nature is always beautiful & you can compost it!
3. Invest in items you'll reuse. This falls into mindful consumption. If you know you'll use something over and over again then buy it. Those drink dispensers & white table cloths get used for every party!
4. Thrift & borrow items. Buying used is a sustainable option if you need items for a party. And borrow items from your friends. They will probably feel good knowing items that were stuffed in their garage were actually getting used.
5. Bite size food is best. Finger food does not need cutlery or even plates. Let your friends mingle and graze.
I hope this inspires you to try zero waste at your next party! The swaps were easy and actually made this party cheaper than my other parties! Even implementing a couple of sustainable practices at your next party will make a difference. Small steps make big changes! Are their tips you can share that helps minimize trash at parties? Please share!