With Earth Day right around the corner and a huge trend of conscious consumption making its way through Pinterest and the lives of many friends and family members, today I want to highlight several simple (and still gorgeous) ways you can make your next party more eco-friendly! Whether you’re part of the zero waste movement, want to reduce your use of single-use plastics or are just trying to live in a more sustainable way, here are 7 Eco-Friendly Party Decor Ideas and Swaps you can make as you take a step in a greener direction.
A few years ago I learned about the Zero Waste Movement and it struck a chord with me. I immediately changed up our lifestyle and habits, doing my best to eliminate single use plastics, started opting for glass and stainless steel whenever I could, switched from paper to cloth napkins and began composting everything in sight. It felt good to reduce my impact and live more sustainably.
And then we’d have a pool party or other gathering with my husband’s side of the family. And there are a lot of us when we’re together – 29 in fact (that’s his immediate family)! Of course no one ever wants to do dishes so we use disposable plates, plastic utensils and cups and create a lot of trash. This is typically what happens at birthday parties, baby showers and other celebrations as well. They can create a lot of waste and may leave you feeling less than stellar about the impact on Mother Earth.
But what’s the alternative? Especially when you still want something easy and festive? Thankfully, we have a lot of options for simple swaps we can make to reduce our party impact! Take a look…
Green Party Plate Alternatives
I love a gorgeous, colorful party plate as much as the next gal, but most of the party plates on the market are either made entirely of plastic or coated in plastic, which means they might not be recyclable locally or won’t biodegrade as easily as purely paper products.
One of the best swaps you can make – especially if you host parties often – is to replace your plastic coated paper plates with actual plates made of ceramic, porcelain or glass. Yes, it requires more work in terms of doing the dishes at the end of the night, but you can reuse them over and over again. You could grab something basic from Ikea or a set of white catering plates from Amazon.
Think that sounds too expensive? Get creative and hit up an estate sale or thrift shop. They always have plates available at great prices! Stick with a single color palette (like all white) or mix and match for a boho feel.
If having something disposable is really important to you, consider compostable plates like these palm-leaf plates by Wild Leaf Tableware. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are perfect for everything from small appetizers to the main course. Because the plates are made from fallen leaves, they’re backyard compostable and fully biodegradable! Yay!
Eco-Friendly Napkin Alternatives
Napkins are a great way to add a pop of color and a little personality to your party! A great green alternative to paper napkins are cloth napkins. This is a switch we made for everyday use in our home and I absolutely love them! I’m always on the lookout for cloth napkins at estate sales and have found some beautiful, inexpensive sets at places like Home Goods as well. You can even find lovely cloth cocktail napkins as well. I love this darling mismatched set from penni olive!
Not ready for cloth? Try Susty Party’s 100% recycled paper cocktail napkins instead. They come in cute patterns like pink triangles, yellow hearts and red plaid, and are made from reclaimed sugarcane bagasse. They’re also industrially compostable.
Plastic-Free Utensil Alternatives
This is another area where you can either opt for purchasing an additional set or two of regular silverware (again, estate sales and thrift shops are the perfect place to find these) or you can upgrade your disposable options.
If you opt for disposable utensils, look for something that’s biodegradable and compostable like these wooden utensils, made from sustainably forested and harvested birch. I love wooden utensils because you can easily hand stamp the handles in a color and pattern that will match your party decor (a simple and quick DIY).
Eco-Friendly Party Cup Alternatives
I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but check out your local thrift shop or estate sales for glass cups, wine glasses and cocktail glasses. You’ll be surprised at what you find and you can easily store your party extras in a storage bin in the garage until you need them. You could also get glass mason jar cups that double as party favors! I like this 16oz size and these smaller 8oz mason jars for kids.
However, you also have greener alternatives to upgrade the disposable plastic (or plastic coated) party cup! Susty Party has a whole line of compostable plant-based cups with cute designs, like this one with gray stars. These are 100% biodegradable and made from renewable plants (they only look like plastic, but are actually BPA and plastic-free). The one caveat here is that they’re for cold liquids only because hot liquids will melt the cup!
Earth Friendly Balloon Alternatives
I’ll be honest. I love balloons and how festive they make a party feel, so this is a hard swap for me. Although there’s some debate about whether or not Mylar balloons are recyclable (even though they are reusable) and whether or not latex will actually biodegrade, the general consensus is that there are other greener alternatives for balloons at your next party.
Consider replacing balloons with colorful paper fans in a variety of colors and patterns. These can easily be folded up and stored for use again at another party.
Or use tissue paper honeycomb balls in a variety of colors and shapes to recreate the look of balloons. You could use these to create a beautiful balloon-like arch over a dessert table, mixing in paper lanterns and paper flowers as well.
Other Eco-Friendly Party Decor
I think the items above are the big ones, but there are so many other smaller things from party favors to cake toppers that I’m sure you can find creative greener solutions for. Here are two final ideas about eco-friendly swaps you can make at your next party.
If you use confetti in invitations, as decoration on your tables or to throw for celebration, consider swapping your usual confetti for something biodegradable. You can even upcycle and make your own by reusing colorful tissue paper from a past party or by hole punching leaves or flowers from your backyard. Talk about green!
Alternatively, grab some of Blue Panda’s gold star biodegradable confetti or Inside My Nest’s multicolor biodegradable and compostable confetti mix.
Paraffin wax candles are made from a byproduct of petroleum (which doesn’t sound so great on a cake, does it?), so an easy upgrade to something greener is to opt for beeswax candles. We like these candles by Hyoola that are 100% natural beeswax and made in the USA.
I hope you now have some new ideas for how easy throwing an eco-friendly party can be! There are so many options for beautiful party decor and you’re only limited by your imagination in terms of the swaps you can create. Leave me a comment and let me know your favorite green party swaps! And be sure to Pin this post for later party planning!