Brilliantly Green Events & Education, oh my!!!
As I’ve said before in previous articles, being a good green host or hostess doesn’t mean you have to include granola hors d’oeuvres and a drum circle. You can throw an eco-friendly party worthy of the goddess Gaia without sacrificing style and fun. Below are my top ten suggestions for throwing a fantastic eco-chic soiree.
1. Electronic invitations – Using Evite.com to invite your guests is a great way to save trees & it’s a much easier way for people to correspond & collaborate with other party guests. As a plus, your friends get to write a sentence or two when they accept your invite. If you have talkative friends like mine, entire conversations can happen when someone RSVP’s.
2. Green decor – depending on your theme and color scheme, you can use a variety of edible and recyclable objects. From fall leaves & bright red apples in autumn to recycled china for a tea party, ideas are all around you. One of my favorite wines comes in a beautifully shaped deep blue bottle. I’ve kept several of these & I use them as vases all the time. Another reusable suggestion for summer soirees – try wheatgrass as a base with a bright potted flower or a vase with lemons and limes for contrast. Wheatgrass is great for you (you can harvest it after the guests go home) and looks amazing!
3. Sustainable tableware – Instead of throw-away plates, cutlery & glasses, I recommend real china, silverware & glasses. You save the environment by reducing the amount of litter & your guests really feel like your party is a special occasion. If you don’t have enough plates/glasses, have a few friends bring some along or visit a charitable thrift shop for some funky chic additions. However, if for some reason you must use disposable plates, cups, & silverware, go with recycled ones or with bamboo disposables which break down much faster than plastic.
4. Local catering – A very easy & tasty way to bring green to your party is to serve food produced locally. Using sustainable meat, veggies, & fruits is a great way to support your neighboring farmer. It also cuts down on fuel consumption & carbon emissions since your food isn’t coming via trucks or planes from a long distance. Visiting Local Harvest’s website or your local farmer’s market are going to be your best bets for finding local meat & produce. Going local at a farmer’s market also reduces packaging waste.
5. Eco-friendly beer & wine – What’s a party without beer & wine? “Torture” is the answer my craft beer enthusiast significant other, Erich, would tell you. If you are planning on serving adult beverages, try to find local vineyards and microbreweries to support. The wine & beer are tasty, cheaper since there is less shipping costs and helps the craft vintner & master brewer survive. It also cuts down on fuel consumption & carbon emissions since your beverages aren’t coming on trucks or planes from a long distance. You can find local breweries on http://www.brewpubzone.com/Microbrews.html
If you don’t have a local adult beverage source or prefer another alternative, try to find spirits which are sustainable. On the wine side, there’s Frog’s Leap Vineyard which is 100% solar powered and dry farms their vineyard, saving water. For beer, I recommend New Belgium who has seriously taken a multi –branched approach to making the planet better or Sierra Nevada who, in 2006, diverted 97% of their total waste from landfills through a combination of waste reduction and creative recycling. Go Sierra!
6. Cosmic cocktails –I love the fact that distilleries have finally started realizing their effect on our environment. Supporting those distilleries that make that extra green effort is a no-brainer. I try to support them every chance I get! Tru Vodka and Gin & 4 Copas Tequila are good examples of tasty organic spirits which help the environment. You can take advantage of fresh local ingredients & these organic spirits by producing one or two signature drinks for your soiree. Use organic vodka, fresh lemon & lavender to make a Lavender Lemon Drop, organic tequila & fresh lime to make a Margarita, or organic gin and fresh orange & lemon juice to make a Gin and Sin. Your guests will love these fresh, eco-tasty concoctions.
7. Low energy lighting – The lighting of a party can make or break the mood of any party. Luckily for us, Mother Nature provides mood lighting with zero harmful side effects. If you aren’t having your party during the daylight hours, you can still capture that solar energy for evening soirees. Hanging solar light strings from trees & using solar lanterns to mark paths adds a complimentary luminescent glow to any outdoor party. If your nighttime fiesta is inside, opt for long lasting fluorescent light bulbs or Soy candles which are clean burning and plant based. Something Wicked carries a great line of soy candles. As a note, they were an eco-friendly company before it was cool to be eco-friendly. I love supporting those businesses!
8. Music Du Monde – Party music is usually an area which isn’t really thought about as being a place when you can go pro-green, but there are ways to make this little niche of your party earth friendly as well. An easy way you can make a difference is to reusing someone else’s music. Visit a used CD & record store and pick out music that fits your party’s theme. Another eco-booster tip is you can support local artists by buying CDs from musicians in your area. CD Baby is a great resource for this.
Of course if recorded music isn’t your style, you can always go old school and hire a local musician to play your party. It’s a bit more expensive but supporting independent musicians is a great way to sustain the local music scene.
The third way to green recorded music is to try to find a singer or group that gives to and stands for green initiatives. From U2 and Sheryl Crow to Axis Mundi (whose latest CD I just can’t get enough of) and Harry Connick Jr., there are many artists to choose from.
9. Fresh Fragrances – Instead of spraying some heavily perfumed room spray which pollutes the ozone, scent your house naturally for your party. In spring, hyacinths & lilacs can make a garden party come to life. In fall, heat up a large pot of apple or orange peel with spices and let simmer during your party. In winter, scent pinecones with evergreen or cinnamon oil for a warm, welcoming feeling.
10. Recycle, recycle, recycle – I know this one is a party staple but this is one which never goes out of fashion. Have your recycling cart next to the trash can to make it easy for your guests. Another fresh take we use at our parties is donating our “empties”. If you know someone who dabbles in making wine or beer, offer to give them the empty glass bottles from the night. They can use them next time they brew a batch of adult beverages. Luckily for me, I live with one of the greatest craft brewers I know so our bottles are always recycled! The benefits are threefold. The bottles get used again, the brewer doesn’t have to buy new bottles & if you play your cards right, you might get some amazing local wine or beer for free in return. Talk about a win/win.
So those are my top ten suggestions for a great eco-chic party — cultivated over many, many moons of throwing green soirees for my friends, family, and clients. Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to “party greener” on some level. So go forth, you Gaia gods and goddesses, and save the planet, one party tip at a time!
Melissa Wagner is a DFW based Certified Event and Wedding Planner with Emerald Events & Weddings, who has coordinated numerous eco-chic events in Colorado & Texas. Her website is www.emeraldeventsintl.com She believes everyone deserves a fantastic party at least once in their life, regardless of race, shape, political views, hair color, or coffee preference.