In December I turned the big 3-0! I’d also made a lot of what some people might define as “radical” changes in my life. I decided to practice what I preach by hosting an eco party in my boyfriend’s backyard.
Koren and I searched many websites for ideas on how to throw an eco party. There are some good ideas out there but most of them are for kids. So here’s some of the things we did at my party. Hopefully this will help out all those other conscientious party goers.
It goes without saying that paper invitations use up unnecessary amounts of paper most of which gets thrown in the bin straight after the party. I chose to send my invitations by email. I used Smilebox to create the invitation and then sent out personal emails to each guest with the invitation attached.
Food and Drinks
I made many phone calls and emails to different caterers and restaurants in Brisbane asking if they could provide me with fresh vegan finger food for the day. Unfortunately I didn’t have much luck so we decided to make our own light vegan snacks for the guests.
Thanks to my sisters’ boyfriends we made hundreds of bite-size pieces of vegan sushi filled with carrot, celery, avocado, cucumber and sundried tomatoes. Delicious!
I bought a range of different dips (hummus, beetroot, pesto, olive paste, baba ganoush and eggplant chutney) from two of my favourite health food stores – The Green Edge and Fundies. We served the dips with carrot, celery and cucumber sticks, crackers, chips and breads. There are also many great recipes out there to make your own dips if you have the time. I made a fresh salsa (recipe sourced from page 81 of the book ‘500 Vegan Recipes‘) and served with corn chips. This one is always a big hit so make sure you make a double batch!
Freshly popped popcorn seasoned with Cajun spices is a great filler and a low fat option for those people who don’t want to fill up on chips and nuts.
In season fruit such as grapes, cherries and watermelon are nice refreshing options for a hot summer afternoon.
Most people brought their own drinks. I chose to drink a vegan wine made by Yalumba. My personal favourite at the moment is the Vermentino 2011.
The only thing I would do differently next time is to make sure all the produce was sourced from local farmers markets. I also bought too much food which can be wasteful so make sure you get your guests to RSVP and be careful when doing your calculations.
I contacted Vintage Cellars, Paddington and for a $100 deposit I could take as many wine, champagne and beer glasses as I needed. On return I got my $100 back (less any amount for breakages). This is a great way to reduce your wastage and if you’re careful with the glasses, it won’t cost you anything.
My lovely friends loaned me their dishes and bowls. We also provided glass plates (from our own kitchen) for people to use for the sushi if needed.
I hunted high and low for some serviettes made from recycled paper but couldn’t find any. In the end I used recycled paper towel which I ripped into squares and sat on the table with a little pebble on the top. You could also cut vintage material into serviettes if you have the time.
Balloons and streamers might look pretty but make such a lot of waste just for one night. This time of year in Brisbane a lot of the trees are blooming with beautiful flowers.
My Mum and Koren went walking in the morning and clipped flowers from the trees which they arranged in vases and recycled jars. My partner has a number of pots with flowers and ferns and these also added nice greenery and colours to the day.
Koren had a birthday party not long ago and spent hours making beautiful decorations from tissue paper. I asked her to save her decorations so I could reuse them again for my party.
I asked my guests for no presents – I have pretty much everything I need and often people aren’t aware of present etiquette for a vegan so it can become a little uncomfortable if say, for example, someone gives you a silk scarf. Gifts also create unnecessary waste from wrapping and don’t even get me started on cards!! You always get a select few who still can’t help themselves though and want to give gifts. So I decided to make a wishing tree.
The idea is for guests to hang a birthday message on the tree (instead of giving cards) and pin money if they choose. I then donated the money ($380 in total!) to the Wilderness Society. It’s best to allocate someone to look after the tree and explain to your guests what it is for. Koren did a great job of rounding everyone up and making sure everyone pinned a birthday message on the tree.
I’m sure there are many, many other things I could have done to make my party eco-friendly. I would love to hear any suggestions you have.
Love Alana xx