Party on, man. But be kind to the planet this Easter.
Holiday celebrations may nourish the soul, but they can wreak havoc on the environment: between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans produce 25 percent more trash than usual, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. To throw a greener party, follow these tips:
* Invitations E-vites save paper, but for an intimate gathering, they may be impersonal, says Danny Seo, author of Simply Green Parties (Collins, 2006). He suggests making invites from items you have around your home (use sandpaper for a housewarming party, for example) or buying ones printed on recycled paper. For something a bit ritzier we like Botanical Paperworks’ invitations and announcement cards –they have wildflower seeds embedded in them.
* Transportation Encourage guests to carpool. If they’re flying in for your party, suggest they fly Continental. Its fleet of newer planes is more energy-efficient, says Josh Dorfman, author of The Lazy Environmentalist.
* Food & Drink Use locally grown or organic ingredients whenever possible. And plan ahead to see if you can donate leftovers to a soup kitchen or a food-rescue organization like New York’s City Harvest. Serve your feast on old or damaged plates that have been “saved” and redecorated. If you are too lame to do it yourself, you can go to artist Sarah Cihat; or, if you must use disposable dinnerware, go with ecofriendly brands like Preserve or EarthShell. Look for organic or Biodynamic wine, beer, and spirits at the liquor store or online at diamondorganics.com. (Get a roundup of favorite brands at naturalhealthmag.com/organicspirits.)
* Decorations For holiday decor, think homemade: Cinnamon sticks tied together work as fragrant tree ornaments, says Seo. Garlands of popcorn and cranberries are also festive and easy to make.
* Lighting Put up light-emitting diode (LED) string lights from your local dollar store or companies like Holiday Creations, which last seven times longer and use nearly 95 percent less electricity than traditional lights. Or you can find solar-powered light strands on the web- do a search for “holiday lights”). Another way to save power: Use candles like the Cheeky Bee Candle Company beeswax pillar.
* Party Favors & Gifts In lieu of party favors, donate to a charitable organization in each guest’s name. Or give gift cards so people can get something they need, says Seo. (For eco-friendly wrapping just use an old newspaper, preferably one you picked up on a train.) If you are the guest and want to bring a gift for your hosts, paint a wooden clementine crate and fill it with organic cookies, soy candles, or biodegradable home cleaning supplies, Seo suggests.
* Cleaning Up Check out ecoproducts.com for compostable trash bags by BioBag. And make housework more festive with limited-edition cleaners by Method and Mrs. Meyer’s, which come in seasonal scents like Hollyberry and Gingerbread.
TO GREEN THE HOLIDAYS FURTHER, you can offset your party’s carbon emissions by reducing greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere.
First, figure out how many tons of carbon dioxide your gathering generated by using an online calculator (try carboncounter.org)–it takes into consideration the electricity used to light your home and miles traveled by plane or car. (For example, if you hosted a dinner party for four couples who would all be driving about lo miles round-trip, your get-together would generate roughly 36 pounds of carbon dioxide.) Then you “offset” this amount of CO2 by donating to renewable energy projects such as wind farms–the idea being that your emissions are negated by the creation of green energy. Because carbon offsetting is still new, Josh Dorfman recommends using reputable companies like NativeEnergy or TerraPass.
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