How to plan a waste free, plastic free party

Patchwork is all about being creative, collective and resourceful. We’re also all about excellent parties. With this in mind, we thought it was about time we put together a guide to organising a party that: keeps costs down, is waste free, super cool and fun for everyone involved. It sounds like a lot to ask, but with the right team, it’s totally possible! Read on for our great tips, ideas and suppliers…and then create your DIY party planning patchwork to rope your mates in to help make it happen!

Waste free party catering

There are some amazing party caterers out there crafting menus exclusively from delicious, perfectly edible food that would have otherwise gone to waste. One of them is Open Kitchen MCR, a Manchester not-for-profit dedicated to minimising food waste with an excellent pay-it-forward model. Another London-based enterprise is Elysia Catering, who handpick the ‘imperfect’ items from their suppliers to make into their delicious sustainable breakfast and canapé offerings. Your guests won’t be able to tell the difference between food waste catering and non, we bet! For last-minute bits, why not use waste-reducing app Olio to pick up from your neighbours – and use it to the next day to give any leftovers a good home?

Make a toast with eco-conscious alcohol

For example, use Toast Ale. The team there make their beer by replacing the normal barley used in brewing with surplus bread from bakeries and sandwich makers. They’ve saved over 1 million slices (which, stacked up, is 1.5 times the height of Everest. No biggy). We also love Seachange Wine, who have a range of ethically sourced, environmentally conscious wines that are committed to combatting the plastic problem. Choosing vendors and supplies that have an eco-conscious makes a massive difference to your party’s eco-credentials, but if you can’t find anyone who minimises waste innovatively, why not find a local supplier, to minimise travel impact instead?

Eat eco-friendly snacks

Eco-friendly attitudes don’t stop with the drink. If you’re looking for some lovely nibbles that are palate-pleasing as well as conscience-clearing, we’ve got just the snacks for you! Though Tony’s Chocolonely‘s delicious chocolate bars’ main aim is combatting slavery, they’re combatting plastic packaging too. Their pretzel flavour is also the heavenliest of heaven-sent tastes. If you’re thinking of going a little wilder, we heartily recommend Eat Grub. Insects are a great source of protein and nutrition, and take up much less resources than their farm counterparts.

Have your eco-friendly cake and eat it, too

Cakes are a pretty integral part of the party, so make sure you choose wisely. Find a baker who’s transparent about their provenance, like Kat Bakes, who details all of her suppliers on her website to ensure the highest quality. Check your supplier uses paper packaging rather than the plastic nasties you can get in supermarkets. Alternatively, you can always make your own, and even better if you can use produce from local growers and farms!

Plantable seed invites

The greenest way to send invites is to organise everything on email or text, but if you’re looking for an eco-friendly way to send physical invites, then make sure you’re sending them on recycled paper. Even better, send them on seed paper, so that your guests can plant the invite in soil once they’re done with it, and wildflowers can grow! That way, you’re sowing the seed for a great party, whilst also sowing the seed for a greener future. We love Wildflower Paper for this.

Reused or reusable decor

There are plenty of ways you can decorate your waste free party without using any eco-nasties like glitter or single use plastic foil. We love eco textiles artist Mia Sylvia, who hand-dyes fabrics with natural pigments to produce stunning pieces. Use them as a backdrop, a tablecover or drape them for a very en vogue focal point. We also love Alice Gabb’s banner hangings to transform a space and hammer a point home: made with vintage fabrics picked up on her travels and inspired by protest signs, they’re a conversation starter, a forever piece and a wonderful celebration of community.

Solar powered light

A little bit of darkness never stopped the party! Use solar-powered lamps to keep it going through the night. We love these Sonnenglas ones because not only do they save on electric bills, but you can also double up and fill them for decoration. Winner winner!

People-powered electricity

Electric Pedals give you the chance to power your party with your very own kinetic energy, by pedalling their bikes! You’d be surprised how much they can power – they’ve powered whole cinemas before – and it’s a load of fun too. In the words of Freddie, get on your bikes and ride!

The good news, of course, is that dancing and laughing and loving is free, easy and eco-friendly so you can do as much of that as you like! And we plan to. Looking for more help on planning an eco-friendly party? Here’s one of our templates. And if you’re thinking about zero waste gifting have a look here for some brilliant #morelovelessstuff ideas.