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  • Writer's pictureMel T

Have your cake and eat it: How to party with less environmental impact

Updated: 1 day ago

With the King’s coronation just a week away many of us are looking forward to street parties. Union jacktastic decorations, tables groaning with goodies and lashings of ginger beer, kid’s games and face paint. Whatever type of celebration you are holding this year they are a fantastic reason to get together with friends and make some happy memories. When planning a gathering you probably aren’t calculating the carbon footprint of your event but there are some simple steps to take that could reduce the environmental impact.

Most importantly - you do not have to be a total fun sponge.

Here are ideas for improving your sustainability with the added bonus that many of them will also save you money:


"In the UK, 70% of UK food waste (post-farm gate) comes from households, equivalent to a value of over £14 billion a year and 20 million tonnes of GHG emissions.” - wrap. So what are some actions we can take? Click the ">" arrow to the left of each action below to reveal some steps you can take:

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Opt for reusable or compostable plates, cups & cutlery

When planning an event, finding out the different environmental impacts of recyclable vs biodegradable items, re-using plastic or ceramic plates, and washing by hand or dishwasher is, let's be honest, a real rabbit hole of doom. Especially when the aim is to have fun! A general rule of thumb is that reusable is often better than disposable for the planet and your pocket. If you want to go for biodegradable/compostable options for convenience (and to save the energy cost of heating up extra washing up water), then it is worth doing a little homework on the best way to dispose of them. Biodegradable often won't break down in landfill very quickly. Compostable could mean industrial composting, or it might mean home composting.

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Ditching the balloons

At this point, I am going to be a fun sponge. That party staple - balloons - they have to go. There's no getting around the fact that balloons are a habit we've all got to kick. If not for the obvious reason that they're single-use plastic destined for landfill or our oceans, then for the marine animals and birds, who can mistake balloons for food or get entangled in balloon strings, leading to injuries or death. Ingesting or getting entangled in balloons can cause suffocation, digestive blockages, and other health issues for wildlife. But the balloon seller told you they’re made of latex which is natural so it’s ok? I’m afraid it isn’t. Even latex takes years to decompose. It’s not all gloom and doom; your party can still look pretty!

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Now your party looks fabulous and your guests are fed let’s turn our attention to gifts and partybags. Millions of pounds are spent each year on gifts that are, well, ahem, they’re just not wanted. No one wants to seem ungrateful so conversations around this topic are pretty tricky to have. When throwing a kid’s party for a class of thirty people that you don’t really know it can get even harder. Then there are the ubiquitous partybags of plastic tat, how does one get around this tradition. Firstly, remember that you cannot control other people’s actions. Here are some ideas for how to suggest some changes to others.

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Event Transport

Whilst you’re talking to your future guests about reducing the associated carbon emissions from throwing a party, it could be a moment to start a conversation about transport. It would be great to encourage walking, cycling, and scooting to parties. It would be great to normalise giving/taking lifts to things. The starting point is to have these conversations. If you're looking for ways to travel into Guildford, why not read 5 ways to get into Guildford without a car.

So there we are, lots of ways to throw a fabulous gathering for people to enjoy and remember. No one is ever going to ask for eco-perfection, at least, they really shouldn’t. Have a think next time you throw a party and see if you can give some of these ideas a go. Then, for the next one, you can try even more of the ideas. Talk to your loved ones about what you are trying to do and before you know it your family will have new traditions that are wonderful and sustainable.

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