How to Host a Zero-Waste Party: Your Guide to Decor, Food, and More

July 09, 2019 4 min read

how to throw an eco-friendly party

The time for wastefulness is long past, and many of us are now conscious about what we throw away and how much. It's about being eco-friendly, and yes, also about saving money. :) So when it comes to hosting a party, you definitely don't want to end up with another bunch of trash bags filled to the brim with solo cups and discarded balloons. This time, you're cutting down on waste.

Try these doable tips and tricks to go low-waste on your next event, whether you're throwing a birthday bash, a nice dinner, or a bigger event like a wedding party.




These days, paper invitations for casual parties are no longer a thing. A simple event invite via Facebook or group text is the easiest way to reach friends without calling them up one by one. If you still want to send a customized invitation, there are also e-vite services online.



For a more formal event where you must send paper invites, design it so it uses the least material possible. Less card stock, less ink, less ribbon. Also look for eco-friendly alternatives to materials we usually use. Examples: recycled paper, VOC-free ink.



Replace plastic with paper.

Rubber or Mylar balloons, plastic streamers, tinsel garlands, and styrofoam art are some of the least eco-friendly decorations ever. Swap them out for paper alternatives, which are recyclable or otherwise biodegradable. There are tons of ways to decorate with paper, from garlands and streamers to rosettes and doilies. The best part? You can easily make these yourself and they'll still come out pretty!

(Note on using paper decor: Minimize the use of glitter and glue on them, as these would make them less recyclable.)


Display art you can (re)use at home.

For event signage, photo backdrops, and wall accents, why not use wall art that you can hang in the room all year round? It's much more practical and just as attractive as single-use signage. Canvas prints are a good bet for that balance between beautiful and affordable. The lovely example above looks just like a watercolor painting, but is actually an inexpensive canvas print (it's available here).


Go natural.

The best way to beautify a place is by bringing in the beauty of nature itself. See if you can find flowers, foliage, berries, and pine cones in your own backyard to match the aesthetics of your party. Honestly, you can pull this off without spending a ton at a flower shop. Check out our tips for decorating with plants here.


Make natural confetti!

Speaking of nature, this is one botanical decor tip we really love. Gather a handful of colorful leaves from the ground, punch tiny shapes from them, and tadaa -- instant confetti! It's all-natural, it's super easy to make, and it doesn't cost a thing! Plus, guests love the cute idea as well.



Choose washable. 

Skip the paper plates, disposable cups, and plastic straws. Use washable tableware instead. If you don't have enough of them (or if, like us, you don't want to risk that special china set), try borrowing from friends or relatives. You can also look into party rental stores to find an affordable set of tableware for rent.

Other items with washable alternatives: cutlery, table napkins, coasters, placemats... the list goes on!


Ask guests to bring reusables.

It's completely okay to request your invitees to bring a table piece or two. We've been to a few "Bring Your Own Cup" parties, and we loved them! Also, if you're going potluck, ask your guests to bring food in reusable containers. At the end of the party, everyone gets to have a container for take-home leftovers!



Plan according to RSVPs.

This is something of a party-planning basic, but really, don't hesitate to confirm with your invitees regarding their attendance. This way, you get an idea of how many people to prepare food for. Woman's Day has a nice guide here on cooking for a crowd.

In addition, when you're planning your party menu, make a grocery list and strictly follow it. An actual list in your hand helps you avoid aimless aisle-strolling at the supermarket.


Check the fridge. 

It's almost magical how there's always food we forget in the refrigerator. Before you shop for party food, scour your fridge to the last corner to see if there are items or ingredients you already have.


Favors And Gifts

Give what guests can use.


No one really needs another paperweight or key charm! For party favors, think of practical items that recipients will be able to use in their own homes. There's an endless array of personalized mugs, shot glasses, bowls, pillows, soaps, and even clothes hangers out there! One of our favorite is this fun beach towel that you can customize with your photo of choice. Perfect for a pool party gift!


Wrap sustainably (or don't wrap at all).

If you want to put your party favors in nice packaging, get creative with sustainable materials. These include paper, organic fabrics, reused (but clean) brown bags, old newspapers, old maps, reused wrapping paper, and even leaves. One quick Google search for sustainable wrapping will give you a ton of DIY tutorials.


These tips just make us eager to throw an eco-friendly party! Which of these are you trying out? And what tips would you add? We'd love to read your suggestions in the comments!

If you loved this post, you might also like our compilation of environment-friendly DIY home decor that actually look gorgeous. Check it out here!

And for more decorating options, drop by the Gear Den online shop for items that are highly rated by customers like you!



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