Living Green: 5 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Party
Cathy Keyani wants to start a revolution -- against plastic goodie bags. The 44-year-old mother of two has an abundance of unused plastic toys given to her kids at parties that are crammed under the car seat and strewn about her home.
Lisa Fulker, 45, Keyani's business partner, friend and neighbor (they live in Palo Alto, Calif.), has a "humongous" box filled with hundreds of pencils and erasers her two kids bring home from parties.
Frustrated with this excess stuff and seeing decorations end up in the trash, the pair saw a need for party products that were less wasteful yet still beautiful and festive. Last year, they set aside their previous careers -- Fulker worked in marketing for Sun Microsystems, and Keyani taught elementary school -- to create Acme Party Box, an eco-friendly party decoration company. All of their products are intended to be repurposed -- as home decor, toys that can be passed down, or as compost for the garden. Their motto: "Party. Rinse. Repeat."
"Once you adopt this philosophy, you realize how easy it is and how much time and money it saves you," Fulker says.
The women offer five simple ways to make your next party more eco-friendly:
1. Use Cloth Napkins
They can be repurposed for parties and everyday use, and "nobody misses the paper napkins," says Fulker.
2. Use Real Dishes
Buy affordable plates and cutlery in large quantities and use them only for entertaining. Budget-friendly stores like Target and IKEA carry attractive and substantial options that won't make you cringe if they break. "Once you've used them twice, they're more economical than disposable plates and cups," says Keyani.
3. Create a Party Box
Keep a tub full of glassware and dishes in your garage or basement. It's a simple way to keep everything in one place, and it becomes your go-to whenever you're having people over. It will save time and money since you won't have to make lists or head to the store. Keyani and Fulker suggest going a step further and creating your own neighborhood block party box. "Whoever is having a party calls the person who's in charge of keeping the box in their garage -- that way a whole neighborhood can benefit and there's zero garbage generated," Keyani says.
4. Start Traditions
The holidays don't have to be the only time you reuse decorations. "At Christmastime, you don't buy ornaments or garland and then throw them away," Fulker says. The tradition of reusing heirloom decor year after year can be applied to birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers and other annual celebrations.
5. Reinvent the Goodie Bag
If you want to give your guests something to take home, make it reusable. Keyani and Fulker suggest glass drinking jars that can be used during the party and then sent home with a little tin of seeds that can be planted in the jar.
What eco-friendly party ideas work for your family? I welcome your tips in the comments section.
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