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This Summer, Party Guilt-Free and Green

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Throwing a party can be intimidating, especially with the many relatives and appetizers to keep straight. But throwing a “green” party? Well, that’s just fun!

These tips will make throwing your eco-friendly party easier than ever—certainly easier than remembering your fourth cousin’s pet poodle’s name.

Invites: Try sending a virtual invite with evite.com—you can keep track of RSVPs, create a checklist of potluck items, bring-alongs and coordinate carpools. At 41 cents a stamp, you’ll save a bundle on postage as well as cut down on your paper consumption. If you’re throwing a more formal event that necessitates a mailing, invest in using 100 percent recycled, naturally dyed invitations printed with soy-based ink. Consider a farm fresh theme for your party—feature your favorite shot of scenic farmland or delicious local produce on your invite!

Veggie bouquetDecorations: Instead of using wasteful throwaways, like paper streamers and balloons, decorate your party with flowers, plants and centerpieces of farm fresh produce. You can use products grown in a sustainable way from either your own garden or purchased from a local farm or farmers’ market. Experiment with new decorating techniques by using photographs, soy or beeswax candles, hanging lights or draping cloths like lanterns—all things that are re-usable and not disposable.

Food: Arguably the most important aspect of the party is the spread. For more casual get-togethers, try suggesting a potluck. You will get to try new recipes AND it’s more likely that reusable dishes, pots and pans will be used.

Want to challenge your guests? Ask them to bring dishes made with farm ingredients grown within 100 miles of where they live.

If you’re coordinating your own menu, purchase your fresh, healthy ingredients from a local farm or farmers’ market, or coordinate with your caterers and chefs so that they use fresh and local ingredients. But be wary of the deluge of disposable utensils and plateware—encourage your guests to bring their own favorite cups, plates and utensils. If you absolutely cannot use more permanent plateware, explore biodegradable and compostible options and set up clearly marked recycling bins.

Man toasting with wineBeverages: Treat your guests to organic beers and wine produced at a vineyard from your region. Consider purchasing a keg of beer to cut down on bottle use, with the added benefit that kegs get recycled per use, so you can sip with a clean conscience. Before the party starts, blend seasonal berries from a local farm with fresh juice to make a refreshing punch, and set out pitchers of ice water so that no one will have to resort to using plastic bottles.

Cleanup: As much fun as cleaning is… it won’t match the great time you had at your “green” party. After the night is over and the last guest has left, clean up with eco-friendly cleaning products. Use cloths and dust rags, instead of paper towels, and compost the organic waste, recycling and reusing what you can.

And remember, always ask for help when throwing a big bash—as that will help you focus on the things that are really important, like spending time with family and friends, rather than worrying about party planning details.

Looking for a nice party favor to thank your guests for their friendship? Consider sending your guests home with gifts of fruit or honey from a local farm. Better yet, give your friends and family the reward of knowing they too can help to save farmland—present them with gift memberships from American Farmland Trust!

American Farmland Trust