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My Plastic-Free Life: Parties!

Earth month has ended...or so the calendar says. In reality, though, it’s always Earth month, right? It’s Earth LIFE! Personally, I try to make small changes every day. Yesterday I learned how to make homemade pasta! Yes! No more plastic bagged pasta for me! Pair that with some fresh veggies from my local farmers’ market and we had ourselves a nice zero waste dinner, but more on food later.

Today, per the request of Adriene, I want to talk about PARTIES!

I love entertaining. I truly enjoy getting my house sparkling clean (with my homemade cleaners, of course), cooking all day and then inviting a bunch of friends over to destroy it all.

Kidding! Kind of…

BUT with parties come single-use plates, cups, forks, etc, and that makes me sad. Yes, it is easier to just throw everything in the trash at the end of the party and call it a day, but at what cost? I have found some easy ways to have a great party with little to no waste.

Instead of plastic, paper or styrofoam cups, try glass jars! Most of us don’t have enough glasses for a big party, but we recycle perfectly useful glass jars all the time. Jam jars, pepper jars, peanut butter jars. Clean those babies out, peel the labels off and you have some cute party glasses! The fact that they are all different sizes, textures and colors just adds to the charm and helps people remember which glass is theirs!

Instead of plastic or paper plates, try thrift store finds! I host a big Thanksgiving dinner at my house. We usually have 40+ people. I did not have 40+ plates, so I went thrifting! It was like a fun treasure hunt! Finding pretty plates that don’t have families and bringing them home made my heart happy. Now I have 50 beautiful, unique plates that I keep stored away until I need them.

Instead of plastic utensils, try real silverware! Why are we so afraid of real silverware?? I was guilty of this for years. I would hoard plastic forks and spoons from fast food restaurants to use for my parties. Y’all. Washing silverware is not hard. Glad I finally learned that lesson. I was lucky enough to be gifted two sets of silverware at my wedding, but if you find yourself short a few forks, thrifting would work for that as well! I display them upright in vases by the plates. Grab and go!

Instead of paper napkins, try cloth! I used to think that cloth napkins were only for special occasions or really fancy people. What a silly thing to think. Cloth napkins don’t have to be fancy. I have a hodgepodge of blue, green, white, patterned and plain napkins that I keep in a basket on my counter for easy access. I have another basket on top of my dryer for the dirty napkins. Once you get into the habit, cloth napkins work for parties and everyday meals. Shout out to YWA team member, Katie, for the cute indigo napkins! You can get your own at her Etsy shop, KatieElliottArt.

Finally, the worst of all offenders...kid’s parties. Plastic-wrapped candy, tiny plastic toys, disposable plastic table cloths. So. Much. Plastic. As the mother of a soon-to-be four year-old, I know that kids get very excited to be handed a goodie bag full of stickers and plastic toys. Then two days later, those plastic toys are added to the mountain of seldom played with party contraband and we’re left to figure out how to dispose of them years later when we can no longer scale the mountain. We’ve done this to ourselves, parents. I share the blame.

Instead of plastic bags filled with plastic toys, try DIY!

For my daughter’s third birthday, I was determined to hand out zero waste goodie bags. First, I started with the bags themselves. I grabbed some t-shirts with cute designs from a clothing swap my girlfriends and I had (A great way to update your wardrobe without breaking the bank or supporting fast fashion!) and I turned them into little bags with my super basic sewing skills. I used ribbon scraps I had laying around to secure them and had myself some unique cloth bags. If the idea of sewing scares you, there are some great no-sew bag making patterns out there.

Next I set out to fill them with non-plastic items. Some great ideas are bamboo flutes, small stuffed animals, small wooden toys, homemade candies or cookies in reusable containers, crayons and tiny succulents. I was at a party last weekend where they gave all the kids wildflower seeds! My daughter was so excited to plant them!

As I said in my last post, I am not a fancy gal. My plates, napkins and little glass jars don’t match and my handmade goodie bags were all different colors and sizes, but again, I say that adds to the charm! Besides the fact that using less plastic saves the planet, switching to reusable party supplies also saves you money. It’s a win/win. And, who knows? You may inspire some of your party-goers to do the same.

Party on, my friends!

-Michelle

Connect with her on Instagram @the_zerowastejourney

21 comments on “My Plastic-Free Life: Parties!”

  1. The main problem is not plastic, the main problem are people who throw plastic everywhere.
    We should educate our children to throw garbage in conteners not at parks, streets, rivers.
    Plastic is good material, without it you would not be able to write that on your computer. You wouldn't be able to watch TV, film with camera, drive your car...
    So the idea is good, but pointless if other people's behavior continues.

    1. Hi Milica,

      I absolutely agree that we should educate and encourage our fellow citizens of the world to recycle and dispose of their trash properly, and that it's quite impossible to be completely plastic-free if you use a phone or a computer or a car, etc. I do, however, try to eliminate single-use plastic items from my life in an effort to keep our Earth cleaner. It's important to me to put less trash in our landfills if we are able 🙂

      1. Hi Michell,
        Thank you for answering me.
        I like your way of thinking and everything that you done, just i'm to depressed when in my country people don't recycle properly, even if you separate your garbage, they put every trash in the same track. People from village don't even throw garbage, they burn it (even plastic). When they go picnic they destroy our beautifull nature. Your way of thinking is too far away from usual thinking of a man from Serbia...
        I hope that something will change ane wish you all the best.

    2. Hi. I agree too! People need to be educated on how to dispose of all their refuse in a much more responsible way.

      Plastic is also truly a miraculous material with tons of plasticity and endless applications, however, it does not need to be made from crude oil. Bio-plastic could revolutionise our plastics industry by Creating more sustainable and biodegradable plastic.

      Also I feel people need to be educated to consume and want a whole lot less. This can be done through yoga and meditation. It would be so beneficial to mankind and our earth to have global shift in mental attitude towards the need to acquire so many useless stuff, stuff that crowds our houses, lives and our minds. When you look around you actually notice most of it is plastic!

  2. I am really proud of everyone that is trying to make a serious effort on stop using plastic :). You are awesome!
    I am just sad, because people should have started to take this measures years ago, not just now. It seems a bit like a trend, but it has to be more than that. It is vital that everyone contributes. I use to dive in real remote locations, like in the middle of the pacific ocean, and i see plastic everywhere, and very few people concerned about that. It is a real thing, and is happening now. Thank you Adriene, thank you everyone for helping to get things better for the planet, and for us.

    1. That is so sad, Joana. I agree.

      For me, this is a lifestyle change and I'm hoping that the 'trend' is that we change the way we consume for good. Keep sharing what you saw on your dives! It's easy to ignore it when you don't know the truth of it all.

  3. This is such a great and helpful read! Going plastic free for personal use is of course a wonderful act, but to extend it into things like hosting is such a wonderful move.

    1. It's a great way to gently encourage others to make changes without preaching to them. Glad you enjoyed the post! xo

  4. For our wedding (120 people) I spent months looking at thrift stores for beautiful, funny, and dorky coffee mugs. Everyone chose a mug for the evening for coffee, water, beer, etc. Then, we invited everyone to take their mug home with them. Years later some people still have their mugs as a memory of our wedding! We also got extra plates and silverware from thrift stores for the wedding and then donated then to the local town hall where we had the reception so future parties wouldn't have to use plastic!

  5. Noticing the problem is the first step, Milica. I appreciate you thinking outside of what you see around you. Be the change, my friend.

  6. Thank you for this article Michelle! Wondering if you have any ideas for non-glass cups? I have a pool and in the summer we throw a lot of parties for friends. Glass is a big no-no with a pool, but I really hate the idea of buying plastic cups all the time. I've considered just keeping the plastic cups, but I find people throw them away regardless. Any ideas? Thanks!

  7. Great! I hope others will follow you in contributing to our society to make plastic-free life. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hey Michelle.

    I'm glad you're much concerned about the mother earth and promoting a plastic free life to others. Really nice ideas on living a plastic-free life. Keep up the good work mate and keep making people aware about saving the environment.

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