Spring and summer are the big seasons for graduation parties, family reunions, family picnics and backyard wedding receptions.
If you want to care for the Earth as you celebrate, you might want to consider throwing an environmentally friendly party. And if you’ve already held a graduation party this year, you could consider some Earth-friendly options the next time one of your children graduates.
From invitations to utensils to where you hold the party, there are ways to have parties that are sustainable yet memorable and fun.
Joseph Orchanian, an environmental-studies student at Western Michigan University and co-chair of Students for a Sustainable Earth, made these suggestions:
• Invitations can be e-mailed to save paper, or if paper is necessary, you can use recycled invitation paper.
• When deciding on food, try to have as much fresh food as possible instead of pre-packaged items. Buy it from local farmers or in bulk from a local co-op. And have vegetarian options available for guests.
• Don’t use disposable utensils and plates if you can help it. Use washable dishes, and if you don’t have enough, rent them from a party-rental supplier.
• Try to serve food that doesn’t require plates, such as finger foods, or serve cookies instead of cake. If you must use disposable products, use recyclable paper products.
• Instead of bottled water, serve tap water in a pitcher, or buy one large container of water rather than numerous smaller bottles of water.
• Serve fair-trade organic coffee.
• For the adults, serve local micro-brewed beers.
• Encourage guests to walk, bike or carpool to your party, and offer prizes to those who carpool. In addition to saving on fuel consumption, doing this will help solve the parking problems that often arise at home parties.
• Have the party outside, preventing the need for air conditioning and have it during the day for plenty of natural light. If guests are going to be going in and out of the house, turn off the air conditioning.
• Provide a container for recyclables and others for trash.
• Clean up with nontoxic, environmentally friendly products such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.
Wil Reding, an environmental-studies instructor at WMU and owner of Rent a Rambling Naturalist, says having a sustainable graduation party sends a great message to the graduate.
He made these suggestions:
• Look for party decorations at thrift stores.
• Don’t release balloons into the atmosphere.
• Use the new LED light bulbs throughout your house for the party and beyond.
Sister Ginny Jones, adjunct instructor in environmental studies at WMU, said gift-giving can be sustainable as well.
“Don’t give stuff for the sake of it. Maybe give something like an engraved pen that can be reused. The goal is to reduce, reuse and try to consume as little of our resources as possible.”
Posted by Jennifer Wezensky | Kalamazoo Gazette June 18, 2008