Host an Environmentally Friendly Bring-Your-Own-Plate Party

Updated on January 9, 2020
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Sarah is a certified yoga teacher and artist who believes in the importance of holistic wellness.

Disposable paper plates may be a convenient way to serve food at a gathering, but opting to have guests bring their own plates will save you time and money and reduce your party's impact on the environment.
Disposable paper plates may be a convenient way to serve food at a gathering, but opting to have guests bring their own plates will save you time and money and reduce your party's impact on the environment.

Less Waste, More Fun

Parties are a wonderful way for people to gather in times of celebration. Unfortunately, most parties result in a lot of unnecessary waste—plastic cutlery, paper plates, and disposable cups and napkins tend to be used once then discarded. Although these products may be convenient for the day of the party, their negative effects on the environment are long-lasting.

The truth is, most plastics don't get recycled and some end up harming wildlife. Plastic doesn't just go away either. It breaks down into smaller particles known as microplastics that end up in the water and can be inadvertently ingested by ocean-life. This means that if you eat fish, you may also be eating plastic. Now, this doesn't mean we can't still have parties—we just have to start doing things differently and in a way that is more life-sustaining. In reality, mother earth is hosting us, and we don't want to trash her place!

We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.

— Howard Zinn

Bring Your Own Plate

When I first starting writing this article, I wanted to discuss environmentally friendly party planning and encourage event hosts to use their own dishes rather than purchasing disposable ones. Then I started thinking, who really wants to do all those dishes? Or, if you are having a lot of people over, what if you simply don't have enough plates and cups of your own for everyone? Then I started thinking about how many people bring their own reusable bags and stainless steel straws with them on the go. So I thought, why not bring your own table setting as well? Thus, the bring-your-own-plate party idea was born. The wonderful plus side? Less set up and fewer dishes for the host—you!

The most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy.

— Joshua Becker, founder of Becoming Minimalist
Many people already carry reusable flatware and straws. Why not have them bring their own plates as well?
Many people already carry reusable flatware and straws. Why not have them bring their own plates as well?

We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do.

— Barbara Ward

The Butterfly Effect

When hosting a bring-your-own-plate party or event, be sure to provide a little information in your invitations for those who are new to the concept. Suggest each person bring their own plate, set of silverware, cup, and cloth napkin. Consider any foods that are being served that may require something additional, such as a soup bowl or dessert plate. Be sure to still have clean dishes on hand to use as-needed or for anyone who forgets their plate! Although some guests may initially think that bringing their own dishes to a party is a bit strange, they'll soon realize that it's just an easy and effective way to promote sustainability and inspire others. Maybe one of your guests will even decide to have their own bring-your-own-plate party! Those who don't want to travel with their personal dishes may consider getting a "travel-set" of dishes from the thrift store.

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.

— Paulo Coelho
Using real plates instead of disposable ones can also up your party's class-factor.
Using real plates instead of disposable ones can also up your party's class-factor.

Practice, Not Perfection

No matter the occasion, any gathering can be made into a bring-your-own-plate event. Birthdays, holidays, work lunch meetings, and more can all be made more earth-nurturing when you choose re-usable items over single-use, throwaway products. You will also save money by not having to buy these plastic and paper table settings over and over. Keep in mind that not everyone will be on board with this idea, Perhaps you already have a stash of plastic spoons from your last party. The idea is not to be perfectly waste-free, but rather to simply make more environmentally conscious choices when possible. An atmosphere of respect and understanding is very important so that your guests feel welcome and comfortable. Let's get creative and work to discover more ways to make choices that sustain a happy planet, both at parties and in other areas of our lives. And don't forget to have fun! This is a party after all.

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.

— Edward Everett Hale

Do you make environmentally conscious choices?

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Questions & Answers


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      • lizmalay profile image


        34 hours ago from USA

        This is such a brilliant idea. I should start doing this for every invitations. Therefore, I can promote and create awareness among my family. I love, love your idea. I hope we can start doing this as a new year just begun. Let's save the environment.

      • chipped teacup profile imageAUTHOR


        13 days ago from Pennsylvania

        Shauna, Thank you for your positive feedback! I'm so glad you like the concept. Hopefully it catches on!

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        2 weeks ago from Central Florida

        Sarah, I think this is a wonderful idea! The individual place settings can be great conversation starter and they can double as doggie bags for leftovers!


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