You guys — it’s bonfire season. Cold craft brews, acoustic guitars, and plenty of water balloon fights are ready to be had. And hey, just because we care about the environment, doesn’t mean we don’t know how to party, right?
But every time I think about barbecues as a kid, I think of endless Solo cups overflowing from massive black trash cans. Bendy straws littering the lawn. Napkins blowing off the table. And endless mountains of beer and soda cans. Sure, there were s’mores and games of cornhole, but so. Much. Trash.
But when you know better, you do better — and we have the information we need to have a great time this summer without loading landfills full of items we used for 30-minutes.
Take back the backyard barbecue and lead by example, showing your guests there’s more than one way to party. Here are a few ways to cut back on the waste, without cutting back on the fun.
Grab a Growler
If you require the finest adult beverages for your bash, go green and go get a growler. These big jugs can hold 4–6 glasses of your favorite brews, are washable, refillable, and always appreciated by a guest with a refined palette.
Purchase Some Paper Straws
If you’re ready to cut the horrible plastic waste of plastic straws, but don’t want to fish stainless steel ones out of the trash the next day, get some adorable paper ones instead. They’re biodegradable, cheap, and pretty darn cute, too.
Trade the Water Balloon Fight for a Water Gun Fight
Latex is biodegradable, but balloons are energy intensive to produce and hardly seem worth the environmental strain for a moment’s use. Give up the water balloons for a few thrift store water guns instead, and have an all-out battle in your backyard.
Ditch the Disposable Plates
Okay, I know — I know it is absolutely maddening to wash every plate in your house just because you had a barbecue. But even more maddening is having someone use a plate to eat half a cheeseburger and some chips, only to throw it away after 15 minutes of use. It takes plastic and styrofoam centuries to break down — it’s just not worth it.
If you can’t stand the thought of the mountain of dishes you’ll have to wash after your party, look into cool compostable options like these disposable dishes from Preserve. These dishes are freezer, microwave, and oven safe, and are 100% backyard compostable.
Say “See Ya” to Solo Cups
My all-time favorite party prepping tactic is to scour thrift shops for cheap dishes for entertaining guests. Snag some extra glasses for your party guests and keep them in a box in your closet so they’re always there when you need them.
Again, if Mount Dishes is the most daunting mountain you dare never to climb post-summer bash, snag a set of compostable cups from Preserve (yep, they even do cups!)
Buy Meat from the Butcher
It is really hard to avoid plastic and styrofoam when it comes to buying meat. If you’re anticipating whipping up a few dozen burgers, see if you can source the meat from the local butcher shop instead, and bring your own reusable containers for the meat.
Speaking from experience: yes, you’re probably going to get a raised eyebrow or two, but it sure is satisfying to have no trash to throw away as you unwrap your local meat.
Use Ribbon Instead of Streamers
I’m a nut for streamers, so I get it — it is hard to part ways with the pretty twirly streamers. I promise though, once you use ribbon, you never look back.
Go to the craft supply store and pick up a few rolls any time you notice them on sale, and keep them on hand for such occasions. They’re more durable than streamers, more customizable, and look so swanky compared to crepe tissue paper.
Do Away with Paper Towels
Okay, I know this one is hard. For parties in particular, it is really difficult to move away from paper towels and napkins, but it can be done. Stock up on some reusable “paper” towels, or make your own.
Don’t leave anything to chance here though — make sure guests know that these are what you’re using instead of paper towels and napkins, and have a designated bin for depositing dirty ones. To be on the safe side, plan on having at least two per guest.
Parties are the height of frivolity, but that doesn’t mean they have to be wasteful. Plan ahead, and remember that it only takes one experience to change the way a few people do things.
Will you try out one of our tips at your next birthday party or barbecue? If you do, give us a shout out on Instagram or Facebook with @avocadomattress or #avocadomattress or leave us a comment below.