I don’t think that it’s a secret that anytime someone throws a party or hosts an event of any kind, no matter the size, there is a lot of waste involved. Think about your childhood birthday parties. Were there paper plates, plastic cups, balloons, streamers, plastic cutlery and a whole pile of wrapping paper and ribbons? All of that went in the trash and, eventually, in the landfill if it was used at the party. If it wasn’t used, you may have grown up like I did, and those graduation party plates were used twice, at your graduation party and at your brother’s four years later. Or, the unused stuff got thrown away too. I don’t need to say it, do I? Wasteful.
In November of 2018, my mom and a couple of my friends threw me a bridal shower. One of my only goals with my bridal shower and my wedding was to create as little waste as possible and that’s just what we did. I’m very grateful that I was able to have a nice bridal shower and wedding, so I wanted to make the smallest impact on the planet as I could while I was celebrating my marriage.
Here’s some tips on how to create a zero waste bridal shower or any kind of party.
- Use your own dishes, cutlery, tablecloths, napkins, etc. There is no shame in the reusing game. Most of us have a mom or grandma who has “fancy” dishes in some sort of cupboard in their house that only come out at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why not use them for your bridal shower?
- If you do need to buy certain things for your party, try to buy secondhand or borrow them from someone else. A quick search on Facebook Marketplace will tell you that there are other brides and grooms out there that have wedding themed shit that they are willing and able to get rid of at a cheap price. The thrift stores also never fail to have the remnants of wedding celebrations crowding their shelves. And, remember, your friends and family have stuff that they will let you borrow. It never hurts to ask.
- Try real hard not to indulge in bride/groom themed stuff that’s brand new. If you find it secondhand or it is gifted to you, fine. But, don’t go spending loads of money on shirts and robes that you are going to wear a couple of times and then shove in a box for memories’ sake.
- For your bridal shower outfit, wear something you already have or shop for it secondhand. I wore a bomb ass white jumpsuit that I got on Poshmark and had tailored to fit me. If you do buy something new, make sure it is something you will wear again.
- If you need to buy anything new, try to see a future for it beyond your party. My mom bought a drink dispenser from the thrift store for my bridal shower mimosas. She brings that sucker out at every occassion and loves it because it looks like a beehive. Also, the purple flowers that are featured in the above images were bought from a craft store and show up in my mom’s spring and Easter decor every year.
- Order or make your food and drink to your parties’ specifications. Don’t overorder or overprepare. Some leftovers is great. Loads of uneaten food is not great. You will get tired of eating that food and some of it will inevitably go to waste. Take the opportunity to get a really close to spot on attendance list during the days leading up to your party and update your shopping lists or your caterers to make sure you don’t waste money and/or food and drinks.
- Order or make your invitations, RSVPs and thank you notes to your parties’ specifications. Don’t overorder! At least with leftover food and drinks you can eat and drink that stuff in the days after your party. What are you going to do with leftover themed and dated invitations? Thank you cards are easier to not waste because you can buy generic thank you cards and save them for other occassions. Heck, go completely digital with your invites if you’d like and cut out all of that potential waste all together.
- If you can create decor and games from stuff you already have at home, do it! Party games are usually cheaply made and pricey. Go on Pinterest and get to DIYing.
- Recycle as much as you can from your party. I’m talking about champagne bottles, wine bottles, card envelopes and anything else that you can think of that may be recyclable. I have even seen brides take empty wine bottles from their weddings and make decor out of them.
- Be VERY particular about what you put on your gift registry. Don’t put items on your registry that you don’t want or that would break easily.
- Encourage people to give to your Honey Fund! Our friends and family sent us money via our Honey Fund for our honeymoon to New Zealand and we will cherish our trip even more knowing that our loved ones helped make it happen. Loved ones can even buy you an experience! I had friends and family who booked things for us to do as a couple for their gifts.
- Give out edible party favors! I grew up knowing about my parent’s junk drawer that held batteries, rubberbands, flashlights and party favors from birthday parties, baby and bridal showers from over the years and I did not want to contribute to that drawer at my bridal shower and wedding. Give your loved ones something edible and it won’t end up in that drawer!
As I always say, lowering your waste is an imperfect process and is all about the effort that is put into it. Look at what your party is going to look like and imagine all of the waste that could come out of that event. Then, think critically about what you can easily and inexpensively change to lower the waste.
You got this. Party on, party people.
Great post Colleen! I went to a part a few summers ago, about 30 or more adults and the waist was a small wooden crate! We did throw some paper towels and napkins in the fire! It feels good!
Thanks so much, Samantha! And good on ya. 😁