Sunday, April 3, 2011

Party Pooper

It is a common belief that if you want to go green you have to forgo all forms of fun.  You have exile yourself from the rest of society and live like a cave man.  This could not be farther from the truth, while this may be suitable for some people, the vast majority of the green culture realizes this and is not expecting that people live like this.  While it is true that we do need to rid ourselves of the over indulgences, this does not mean that you cannot have fun.  Humans are social beings, when we are given a chance to have fun we can clear our heads, raise our spirits and it can often lead to the formation of great ideas or innovation.

There are many things that can be done to make a party have less of an impact, however the best ways involve avoiding the creation of needless waste in the first place.  If you can put in place procedures and practices in order to reduce waste, it will not only serve to help reduce your impact but it will also reduce your work load later.

If your patron volumes warrant it, try to use kegs as opposed to bottles to serve your alcohol.  While there is a large market for recycling bottles, that is not to say there is not an impact due to transportation, cleansing.  Bulk uses less packaging, and it will most likely be guaranteed to be less expensive.  Yes, I know what you are thinking, you will need something to drink your hoppy beverage with.  In my recent experiment to pick up one piece of garbage a day, I have noticed that the majority of garbage littering our streets is in the form of disposable fast food packaging.  The majority of the waste going to our land fills is a result of our throw away culture. 

Most of the parties that I have frequented tend to handle this by using the infamous plastic red disposable glasses,  among paper, plastic, Styrofoam plates/cups/utensils.  If you are not worried about your patrons breaking expensive glass, use your existing plates, cups, and utensils, this way you can ensure that no waste will be sent to the landfill.  If you do not want to risk your own dishes, find some reusable plastic plates and cups, but avoid plastic utensils unless they are thick as these have a tendency to break.  This way you can wash and reuse the dishes the same way you can with your own dishes.  The dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand, so when the party is over just simply pop the dishes into dishwasher and you are done.  Chances are you will throw more than one party so you can keep these tucked away until the late nights arise again.  If your party is too big to justify buying a large quantity of dishes, look up local businesses that rent out reusable plastic dishes and undertake the responsibility of the washing.  Please, please avoid using throw away dishes, chances are you knew about your party in advance, so put a little extra thought into your waste.  If you absolutely have no choice but to go with one-time use dishes, seek out the dishes that are made out of recycled materials.

Decoration Constructed out of Recycled Office Paper
Decorations are also another large aspect of any successful party, as we like to stimulate the senses and create a memorable experience.  Most often we will run off to the dollar store or local party store to buy ribbons, poster supplies, that will most likely be used only once before we throw them out.  There are two basic ways to reduce your decoration impact; don't buy new and utilize reusable decoration elements.  Parties are great places to get creative, instead of copping out and buying decorations new take a look around your household and see how you can reinvent an everyday household item as a decoration.  You may have to tailor your party theme to what is available, however you are not limited to what is just in your home, take a look around your city and the web and I am positive you will be able to find objects ready to be reused for your hip party.  Check out your local garage sales, ask local companies for any unwanted materials.  You could use beach balls in place of balloons, used office paper to create paper mache to your whims of your imagination, the possibilities are unlimited.  If you cannot think of a way to create recycled decorations, make a quick search on the Internet, people have been having parties since the dawn of time and you will undoubtedly find ideas that you can borrow.

The second way to reduce your decoration impact is to utilize decoration schemes that use less physical materials.  Try to employ your environment and lighting to create the desired effect as opposed to physical streamers or balloons.  You can throw a red sheet over a lamp and drastically change the mood and feel.

Most often we have to let the world know about our party.  Instead of employing an army of ink and paper, take your invitation to the internet where the earths billion inhabitants congregate. Paper and ink require large amounts of resources and energy to produce, and recycle, whereas the internet does not take a physical form.

It is very likely that a you will plan or attend a costume oriented party.  The impact of your costumes can be minimized in a similar fashion to your decorations.  Do not buy one of the pre-packaged costumes from your local party store and instead take a look around your household.  There is a gold mine of items that could be repurposed into the time of your life, old utensils can become antennas, cardboard into a shield.  If you need one critical component in order to complete your ensemble, take a look at your local value village, garage sales, and used clothing outlets.  Again if you are coming up short on ideas jump onto the web and take a look at what others have done.

Some other ways to green your party:
  • Make sure you have recycling bins/bags in place to collect and recycle any left over bottles, plastic, paper waste.
  • Avoid ordering food in from fast food outlets, if you have no choice bring a reusable container for the food to cut down on the needless disposable waste.

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