Kristina is a parent of two, writer, remote worker, and volunteer. In her spare time, she enjoys nature, trying new things, and lots of DIY.
New Year's Eve is one of the most festive holiday's, and a fun way to celebrate (or say good riddance to) your previous trip around the sun. I enjoy a good party on December 31st, but I often question the amount of waste that can go along with it. Disposable plates, balloons, and lots of plastic (horns, confetti, and tablecloths, just to name a few). I began to wonder: what changes could be made? Is it possible to have a fun celebration but still be friendly to the Earth?
There are several ways to adapt a traditional party to a more "green" party. Check out these easy tips for an eco-friendly New Year's Eve!
1. Electronic Invitations
It's the 21st century, so it's time to ditch the paper! Save a few paper invitations for those who aren't online. For the rest, switch to electronic invitations. Electronic invitations are quick and much easier to use (no need to search for addresses). In the past, I've used Punchbowl and Evite with great success. Both websites offer free invitations (as well as paid), and the ability to track RSVPs. All you do is send the invitation via email (simple enough!) Another option is to create a Facebook event. If most of my guests are on Facebook, I prefer this route. It's even easier than electronic invitations because there's no need for emails (just select names from your Facebook friends list). Guests can communicate with each other, and with you via the comment section. No writing hand cramps involved!
Sure, it's easier to head to your local party store for sparkly decorations, but it's not nearly as eco-friendly. Many party decorations, supplies, and favors are made of plastic or non-recyclable materials. Most are also made with virgin materials, not post-consumer-recycled content. According to Recycle Nation, virgin "materials are sourced directly from nature in their raw form." Instead of using brand new materials, try upcycling, recycling, or purchasing decorations second-hand. I enlisted some help from others, and we spent a few fun hours being crafty. Here's what we made:
- Garland: I always save the sturdy wrapping paper that my mother-in-law uses to wrap her gifts. After gifts are opened on Christmas, I salvage the paper and save it for reuse. For New Years Eve, we used some of that shiny, silver paper and made a paper-chain garland. You could also reuse gold and silver tinsel and string it around the room.
- Medallions/Stars: Reuse more shiny wrapping paper to make medallions. Check out the Elli Blog for a tutorial!
- Signs/Banners/Bunting: If you're feeling artistic, use an old cardboard box and some markers to make a DIY "Happy New Year!" sign. Or, print out a small banner on paper, which is recyclable. We ended up making bunting out of silver wrapping paper (the salvaged paper really came in handy!)
Thankfully, there are a lot of alternatives to disposable paper or plastic tableware. The most eco-friendly option would be to use regular dishes and wash them afterward. If you are hosting a small gathering, this is feasible. Understandably, with a large gathering, this would not be as easy. Instead, look for compostable tableware. Your local party store may offer a compostable option, but if not, you can order online. Keep in mind that some brands are only compostable in an industrial compost facility. Some are also compostable at home (just be sure to check into that before you purchase). If you don't have an area to compost the plates, recycled tableware is another option. One brand that I found is Chinet Classic White; which is made from at least 80% recycled material. Also, look into different brands and their practices. There are more sustainable brands that use materials which are responsibly sourced and certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® Fiber Sourcing Standard.
Note: Granted, shipping items isn't the most eco-friendly practice. If this is a concern, you could consider purchasing carbon offsets, which are a "form of trade that funds projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Source: How Stuff Works)
4. Party Supplies
What about party supplies? Can these be altered to be a bit more eco-friendly? You bet! Here are a few ideas for green party supplies:
- Beads: Beads are shiny and fun, but they are also a big problem for the Earth. According to one source, an astonishing 20 million pounds of them are shipped to the U.S. each year. A significant amount goes to Louisiana for Mardi Gras, and where do the majority end up? In the landfill, greatly contributing to plastic pollution. If you decide to have party beads, search around for some secondhand. When I visited my local consignment store, I saw three bags of beads for sale. Or check out eBay!
- Horns/Shakers: What's a New Year's Eve celebration without a little noise at midnight? Instead of buying plastic horns, try making your own kazoos using cardboard paper towel tubes and wax paper. Or, use the cardboard tubes to make shakers. Check out this fun shaker idea from Picklebums.
- Confetti: Instead of plastic confetti, try making your own. Save your old newspaper, scratch paper, or used wrapping paper and just shred or tear it up. Put it in a big bowl and hand it out shortly before midnight. Another option is to buy or make biodegradable confetti.
- Photo Booth Props: To capture memories of the evening, setup up a makeshift photo booth. For the props, use parts of Halloween costumes (a pair of silly glasses, a colorful hat, a feather boa, beads, etc.). Make a couple of DIY party hats and print out a few "Happy New Year!" signs for guests to hold in the pictures (then save the paper signs and hats for next year!)
- Party Hats: Use an old cereal box, plus salvaged wrapping paper, ribbon, and glue to make a festive party hat.
What Not to Buy for NYE
Balloons! I searched but just couldn't find an appropriate alternative for a balloon drop. According to Balloons Blow, "latex balloons are not biodegradable." As much fun as balloon drops are, it would be more eco-friendly to scrap the balloons, and stick with homemade horns and confetti.
Small Steps Add Up to Big Change
We covered the basic party plans, but there are a few more things you can do.
- Encourage your guests to carpool.
- If possible, use local beverages or snacks.
- Purchase a secondhand outfit (or use one already in the closet).
- Borrow jewelry and accessories from friends or family.
- Skip the party favors altogether.
- Avoid fireworks
Keep in mind that trying to go green can be overwhelming at first. It can be more time-consuming. If it isn't possible to make ALL the changes at once, even making a few small changes is helpful! Just start small, take baby steps, and it'll gradually feel easier to incorporate more eco-friendly choices into your lifestyle. It's worth it for your own health, and the health of our Earth!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Kristina BH