How Do You Party Sustainably?

We’ve passed the Memorial Day marker and moved into the unofficial start of the summer season. It’s time to party! Picnics, BBQ’s, festivals and fairs dot the horizon and make the warmer months here in Wisconsin extra special. But you might be wondering, “Is it possible to have fun and party in an earth-honoring way?” The answer is: YES! Eco friendly parties for adults and kids alike are highly attainable and easy on the wallet. We just hosted our first BYO Potluck at both Green Life Trading Co. locations and it was a smashing success due in large part to the community of people that surround us and are willing to make little changes to party on in a totally green way. If you’re still not convinced that a sustainable soiree is possible, or are just looking for a few tips and tricks to host the perfect backyard bash, we’ve compiled a list of simple and affordable ideas for a waste free party season. 

Stylish and Sustainable Tableware

The most en vogue sustainable choice is using what you already have. Paper plates? Plastic forks? If you’ve got a stash tucked away in your kitchen junk drawer use them! A stylish ribbon or decorative cup to put them in will go the extra mile to make them look cute and intentional. You can then reuse what you have from your stock over and over again by setting out a sudsy dish bin with a clear label at your next event. 

If you would like to beef up your selection of sturdy, non-shatter plates, consider thrifting a reusable set for eating and serving dishes outdoors. Enamelware is great for camping and hosting alike. 

Paper napkins getting you down? There are so many soft and colorful options for reusable cloth napkins and Unpaper Towels that can be tossed in the wash and used time and time again to mop up mustard and clear the crummiest of crumbs. 

Lost about how to serve lemonade and mixed drinks? Lots of grocery stores now carry Ball Aluminum Cups, that keep drinks icy-cold and can be recycled (unlike their red Solo cup counterpart) or washed for reuse. 

Got a friend who loves to host? They may already have an adorable and abundant set of tableware ripe for borrowing. All you have to do is ask (and maybe invite them to your next backyard BBQ)!


If you are planning for a last minute birthday bash, the colorful mylar balloons and confetti from the shops might start screaming your name. We’re not here to villainize balloons, but maybe you’d like to entertain more low waste options for your celebration. 

Whether it’s a party for kids or adults, the first few people to arrive at an event are usually antsy and ready to get started on something engaging and fun. We love this biodegradable DIY confetti project using leaves from around the outside of your home or a bunch of luxurious eucalyptus for an extra engaging scent experience. All you need are your leaves, a hole punch and bowl and you’ve got a low waste activity and decorations for guests to enjoy.

Get People Talking 

I recently hosted an event in my backyard where I put out a selection of juicy and enticing watermelon slices. The guests were pleased to bite into a triangular helping of summertime but when it came time to ditch the rinds, a few headed for the trash bin. I excitedly redirected people to my compost tumbler in the back corner of the yard and took some time to give a tour of my complete composting system. This led to a lively discussion about composting that got guests buzzing about options and opportunities for diverting waste from landfills. 

If you are a member of a composting drop off or collection service (such as Green Box Compost) or have a municipal composting program, set your bin in an easily accessible spot for party guests to scrape biodegradable portions from their plates.
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Hanna Kohn

Hanna Kohn is the Operations & Communications Manager with Green Life Trading Co. where she educates individuals and small businesses on accessible and sustainable products and solutions. She holds a BA in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a Sustain Dane Master Recycler. Hanna is always up for a chat about composting or the latest animal & nature emojis.