‘Tis the season for BBQs, picnics, and parties galore! Whether you’re planning a big bash for a holiday, graduation, or just because or more into casual or impromptu gatherings with friends and family, you can be the best host on the block with a few pro tips to make your get-together as welcoming, eco-friendly, and delicious as possible.
Don’t send out paper invites — email them instead! It saves paper and makes keeping track of a guest list so much easier.
Stay close to home when it comes to your summer BBQs and al fresco evenings. If you’re lucky enough to have a farmer’s market in your area, visit weekly or bi-weekly to stock up on local produce, meat, honey, and so much more and infuses your dinnertime dishes with fresh flavors and in-season produce. A summer salad tastes so much better when it’s made with organically grown, freshly picked kale and ripe, earthy tomatoes!
Do some pre-party prep work.
Before your picnic or party, reach out to your guests to ask about any food allergies or sensitivities. If you have vegetarians on the guest list, be sure there are adequate sides, salads, and other options for them to enjoy so they’re not stuck eating a few bites of lettuce. If you’re able, have dairy-free or gluten-free options available to make your event more enjoyable for everyone, and if a guest offers to bring a special dish that fits their dietary needs, let them contribute.
Provide a shady spot to relax.
Outdoor parties are the standout of summer, but that blazing sun can be too much for some guests, especially young children, pets, and elderly adults. If you’re planning a party in full sun, take a large beach umbrella for shade and don’t forget to supply sunscreen and bowls of water for furry attendees.
Skip the disposable plates and plastics.
Just say no to throwaway cups! For a more sustainable summer party, opt for reusable plates, cups, and silverware and fabric napkins you can wash and use again and again. If your event is adults-only, glass dishes are OK, but it’s generally safer to opt for plastic — and even better if you can get your supplies secondhand!
If you can’t make that happen, buy compostable dinnerware to minimize the amount of trash your event creates. It’s slightly more expensive, but when you consider that plastic forks and cups can live for decades in a landfill, that peace of mind is a small price to pay.
Make a punch or a big batch of tea or lemonade.
Instead of quenching your guests’ thirst with canned sparkling water, soda, and lemonade, make a few big batches of punch (or mixed cocktails!), iced tea, ice water, or whatever else you like in pitchers to serve instead. It’s an easy way to reduce excess waste and a fun option for guests to choose from too. If you’re serving beer or coffee, opt for kegs and growlers when possible. The more the merrier!
Rehome decorations and supplies.
When the party's over, don’t toss decor or shove it in a closet. Is your neighbor throwing a shower or BBQ of their own and could use your decor? Sustainability is all about buying what you’ll use, but if you find yourself with leftover supplies that will languish in a drawer, rehome them where they’ll be appreciated and used again.