In a few weeks, I’ll be graduating from the University of Kansas. This graduation will mark the end of my college career as well as the end of my internship at Natural Home, but it won’t end with a fizzle. Instead, in an effort to combine these two momentous occasions, I’ll be hosting a green graduation party. I’ve learned so much about living a greener life while at Natural Home, and here are the things I’ll be considering when planning my eco-friendly bash:
Instead of buying fancy centerpieces, opt for a more natural (and earth-friendly) approach. Arrange in-season fruits and vegetables in bowls, and fill any empty spaces with potted plants and herbs. Photo by Cherry and Eric/Courtesy Flickr
Food and Drinks
-I’ve written a lot about buying organic and local foods, as well as about how to be a greener cook, and here’s my chance to finally practice what I’ve preached. Of all my green grocery tips, I’ll mainly be focusing on buying organic and in-season produce, and of course using all those canvas shopping bags I’ve been hoarding.
-When deciding what to serve, I’ll be looking up great finger food recipes. Finger foods are fun to eat, plus they cut down on the number of plates and utensils people use.
-With all the leftovers that I’m bound to end up with, this will be the perfect opportunity for me to start a compost pile instead of just throwing out all the extra food.
-Any alcohol I buy will be organic or local. The Organic Wine Company offers a plethora of wine choices from all over the nation and world, while I have two great local breweries to choose from: Free State Brewing Company and 23rd St. Brewery.
-Because aluminum cans and glass bottles are easy to recycle, I’ll be serving soda that comes in either of those two containers. In addition, I’ll place easily accessible and clearly marked recycling bins around so people know where to put each container when they’re done with their beverage.
-For after-dinner treats, I’ll brew Mother Earth News Conscientious Coffees and Teas for an early evening eco-friendly caffeine boost.
-I’ll serve water and mixed drinks in some extra vases and old wine bottles instead of buying new pitchers. I don’t need any more stuff, and my goal is to use as much from around my house as possible.
-Making and sending party invitations is always fun, but it creates a lot of waste. Instead, I’ll be sending e-vites to my guests. It’s faster than standard mail, and only requires the amount of energy to view it once or twice. Still, if you want to make invites, you can repurpose old magazines and stuff from around your house to add a touch of uniqueness to each one.
-For place cards, I’m going to use wine corks and paint chips (which I collect). Just a slice down the middle of the top of the cork serves as a snug holder for the paint chip, on which I’ll write each guest’s name with nontoxic ink.
You can make creative place cards by slicing a cork and inserting a paint chip with the person’s name on it. Photo Courtesy Epicurious.
-Instead of wasting hundreds of paper napkins, I’m going to provide my guests with cloth bandanas. It’ll add a bit of sophistication to the party, plus it’s been my experience that people don’t waste as many cloth napkins as paper ones, which will greatly cut down on waste generation.
-If I end up needing more tables and chairs than I have, I’m going to rent more instead of buying them. Again, I don’t need any new stuff, and renting is a very practical alternative to buying all new products.
-I can already tell that I won’t have enough dishes and silverware for all my guests from my own stash, and because I refuse to use all disposable items, I’ll ask friends if they have any I can borrow. This way, the place settings will have an eclectic feel instead of being too formal. And, of course, I’ll be washing the many after-party dishes in an Energy Star-rated dishwasher because it’ll be more energy efficient than washing them all by hand.
-Instead of buying anything pre-made, I’ll be making my own table centerpieces out of colorful in-season fruits and vegetables and scattering potted plants and herbs around the tables, too. My guests and I can consume the fruits and veggies either at the party or after, and I can give away the potted plants and herbs or plant them in a garden at a later date. These are both much more sustainable choices than cut flowers, but if flowers are what you want, make sure to buy local and organic ones.
-Because graduation is in May, there is a good chance the weather will permit an outdoor get-together, or at least will provide enough natural light that I won’t have to turn on many lights inside. Taking advantage of natural light is a great way to save on energy bills as well as add some ambience to any party.