context: have you ever noticed…how much waste is left over from a party or reception? …how much energy consumed? …how much air and soil pollution produced? Do you think holding environmentally conscious parties is too complicated and you don’t know where to get started?
Well, don’t worry! All around the world lots of initiatives are being carried out by youth groups and/or environmental associations - often in collaboration with local political authorities - to show how to make our parties greener and fairer…without complicating one’s own life.
who: here are a few examples of recent initiatives carried out to encourage greener party practises…
- the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) has elaborated a sustainable party guide (“Les festes més sostenibles”). The guide, written within the framework of the Barcelona Agenda 21 plan, is full of interesting suggestions on how to reduce the environmental impact of any kind of party, from a simple dinner among friends to a big concert (www.bcn.es/agenda21/A21_text/guies/Les_festes.pdf);
- In the Netherlands you can go out in a trendy club and feel good because you contribute to positive environmental processes, such as generating electricity by dancing. This idea forms the principle concept of The Sustainable Dance Club™. The Sustainable Dance Club incorporates innovations in the field of sustainable design and applied techniques with social responsibilities in attractive club surroundings. You will generate energy while dancing on the Sustainable Dance Floor and flush the toilet with rainwater. The color of the walls changes without any energy use as a reaction to the heat and you can drink an organic beer near the water basin on the ‘relax roof’. And good news for the ones who don’t want to travel to the Netherlands for a sustainable party: The Sustainable Dance Club is developed as a brand: with time you may find sustainable dance clubs all over the world! Check out their website for details http://www.sustainabledanceclub.com/
For more clubbing details, go to http://www.watt-rotterdam.nl/
- in Canada, the “Guidelines for a low-waste celebration” by the Recycling Council of Ontario (www.rco.on.ca/millennium.html) offers, among others, ideas on waste reduction during family celebrations;
- in the USA, the Waste Reduction Coalition in its “The event planner’s guide to waste reduction” (www.besmart.org/festival/index.html) as well as the “Recycling and composting programme of San Mateo County” (www.recycleworks.org/schools/nowaste.html) suggest smart ways to reduce wasting food and cups at your party.
Making your party sustainable is not that complicated! Here are some sustainable tips on where you can start to green your party:
But sustainability is not only about waste reduction, energy saving, fair trade, organic food and so on… it is also (and above all), a question of creativity and imagination: have you ever thought of organising a bicycle race to reach your party site instead of everybody taking their individual car? And what about serving food on clean Frisbees as plates so the guests can then take them home as gifts?
- send invitations printed on recycled paper or, even better, electronic invitations, or just make a call!
- use reusable gift bags, baskets, tins, boxes, or scarves instead of wrapping paper;
- decorate with plants, fabrics and other greenery instead of plastic streamers or balloons;
- offer reusable and/or ‘fair trade’ gifts or give no-waste gifts like theatre, cinema, concert or sporting event tickets;
- purchase your party supplies in bulk and buy only what you need. Buying the largest size you can use saves packaging;
- use reusable dishes, utensils and cloth napkins. If you need paper products, buy the products with recycled paper content;
- set up an area to recycle bottles and cans at the party;
- to reduce food leftovers, plan the menu carefully and purchase only the amount of food needed to prepare ample servings for your guests. When estimating food needs, consider the following factors: the number of guests, the number of courses and the length of the event. Food can come from organic and – where possible - local farms to avoid additional environmental costs due to transport.
These are just a few ideas to show that it only takes a little planning and creativity to make our party greener and even more fun!