When it comes to entertaining, you should know that you can be both stylish and sustainable. Planning a gathering regardless of the guest count, involves a myriad of details. From flowers to flatware, you, the host, are responsible not only for the tone of the gathering; but also for the extent to which your event will impact the planet. Heavy, I know. But don’t panic. Knowing your “green” party planning options makes it a lot easier for you to make the right choices.
I asked Green Wedding Expert and New York Times writer Mireya Navarro for some advice on how to “green” your event. She said, “People always ask me for a checklist for how to ‘green’ their wedding or event. But going green involves a mindset rather than a to-do list ─ it’s asking yourself questions such as: What is a greener alternative to this invitation? To this menu? To this venue? How can I avoid waste, excess, long-distance travel by car or plane? Once you start thinking along those lines you will find plenty of ways to be greener.”
Whether you’re planning a wedding or simply inviting friends over for dinner, there’s always ways to “green” your event. I’ve taken her words to heart and put together some tips for “Green Entertaining” ─ practical ways for throwing a beautiful party without leaving behind a gigantic carbon footprint.
. The nearer the better. When selecting a venue, choose a location that’s close by. Less travel directly translates to less environmental impact. Guests are also more likely to attend your event if they don’t have the hassle of traveling long distances. And if you’re doing your own shopping, try to buy locally. A farmers’ market is a great chance to pick up all of your ingredients at once while saving you, and reducing the environmental impact of driving from store to store.
. Use certified organic cotton percale dinner napkins. Sumptuously soft, these natural napkins help to create a warm tone and can be used over and over. Also, whenever possible use natural light. Set your party time a little earlier than usual. When it’s time to come inside, instead of using traditional paraffin wax candles to set a romantic tone, illuminate the room with soy wax or beeswax candles. Soy wax and beeswax candles are better for the environment because they are not made from crude oil.
. It should come as no surprise that food raised in harmony with nature simply tastes better. Growing organic food uses less energy and does not disrupt the delicate balance of our eco-system. Wild leeks, Vidalia onions, heirloom tomatoes, snap beans, yellow crookneck squash, peaches and blueberries are perfect choices this time of year. Organic fruits and vegetables are crisp, sweet, and full of flavor. By serving organic food at your gathering you’ll be making taste buds happy and the earth happy. If you’re having your event catered, request a locally grown, organic menu. They’ll be happy to oblige.
. Sturdy but soft to the touch, utensils and plates made from bamboo add a contemporary flair to your green gathering. Products made from organically grown bamboo are all the rage at many environmentally-friendly restaurants. And for good reason. These naturally beautiful wood products are durable, biodegradable and a perfect marriage of form and function.
. Most eco-conscious party throwers send electronic invitations. But if you choose to send paper invitations use tree-free paper. Tree-free paper has a rustic quality unlike regular paper. From hibiscus to hemp, treeless paper is on the rise. My favorite, sugar cane paper, is heavily textured and made from a post-harvest byproduct. It’s also 100% biodegradable.
. Choose sustainable flowers and plant materials over fresh cut. Plants that live off the moisture of their own leaf systems are chockfull of personality and make wonderful table embellishments. Miniature potted succulents, cacti, and ground cover such as hens and chicks make fascinating table compositions. Because of their odd beauty, drought resistant plants are usually the talk of the party.
Choose to Give
. As the party wraps up, give your guests the miniature potted plants as take-home keepsakes. Presenting them with some of those sustainable plants they’d been admiring all evening sends home a resonating gift of nature. Leftover food, if not taken home by your guests, can be enjoyed by officemates the next day. Give back to the planet by composting and recycling the rest.
. Avoid serving fish like Chilean Seabass and Atlantic Halibut that are fished beyond their sustainable yield. Exploitive fishing practices like “blast” fishing are harmful to oceans and destroy habitats. Instead, select “ocean-friendly” fish that are responsibly harvested by sustainable fishing practices. Contact Seafood Watch® for a pocket guide of the best seafood choices, fish to avoid, as well as "good alternatives.”
About A Legendary Event
Formed in 1997, A Legendary Event has grown into a multi-million dollar full-service event enterprise, handling more than 2,500 events a year. Known for his Midas touch, Tony Conway, President and Owner is admired by top CEOs, celebrities and politicians because of his attention to detail and penchant for providing haute cuisine and divine design, always with the client in mind. A Legendary Event is located in Atlanta and can be reached at (404) 869-8858(404) 869-8858. For more information, please visit www.alegendaryevent.com.