Invitations, guests lists, food and music — you have plenty to think about when you’re planning a party.
But have you thought about what you can do to make your next event more environmentally friendly?
Whether you’re planning a backyard barbecue, a wedding, your office’s holiday event or your child’s birthday party, there are many ways to make your next gathering green, no matter what your style or budget.
Save trees — and money — with online invitations. While Evite and Facebook’s e-invitations are perfect for a birthday party or barbecue, there are now a number of websites offering online versions of formal invitations for special occasions like baby showers and weddings. At sites like Greenvelope or Paperless Post, your e-card is delivered to your guest’s inbox, where they digitally “open” the envelope, read the invite you designed and RSVP to your event.
If you prefer a traditional invitation that your guests can hold in their hands, look for invites printed on recycled-content or chlorine-free paper.
Organic vs. Local
We all know food is the most important part of any party, but how can you dish up sustainable fare without breaking the bank? Organic food is often more expensive, which makes a difference as your guest list increases.
But don’t worry if your budget doesn’t allow organic; consider serving local, seasonal food instead. Because local food travels fewer miles to reach your plate, it’s often less expensive than food shipped from across the country or globe. So what’s good for the environment — saying no to serving chocolate-covered strawberries in February or roasted butternut squash in July — might be better for your wallet.
If you’re planning on having an event at a local restaurant or bar, check out the Peninsula’s As Fresh As It Gets dining establishments, which source their produce, fish and wines locally. Here are three recommended restaurants in San Mateo on the As Fresh As It Gets list: at 69 3rd Ave., Bistro 330 at 330 N. Bayshore Blvd. and California Grill at 1770 S. Amphlett Blvd.
Waste Not, Want Not
For the next gathering at your house:
- Put out recycling bins where guests can toss their empty cans and bottles.
- If you have a backyard compost bin or if your city has a curbside food scraps collection program, place a container or empty paper bag near the trashcan to collect food leftovers.
- Make sure to clearly label all recycling, compost and trash bins — a great activity for your kids to carry out.
Collecting food scraps for compost at your next party also means you can use paper plates or the compostable tableware available at most grocery stores. If these compostable products end up in the landfill, it will still take years for them to decompose, because landfills are designed to prevent material from breaking down and creating pollution.
The most eco-friendly tableware to use at a party — if you’re up for doing the dishes — is, of course, real plates, glasses and silverware.
When hosting an event outside of your home, at a restaurant or hotel, check with the staff to see if the business has a recycling and food scraps composting program.
Businesses certified by the San Mateo County Green Business Program are guaranteed to have established recycling programs. While there are no restaurants certified as green businesses in San Mateo yet, there are a few restaurants in the county with certifications, as well as several certified hotels near the coast.