Tips for Throwing a Green Gathering:

Throwing a party? Make it a green celebration – a wonderful opportunity to reflect your values and creativity while reducing the carbon footprint of each and every guest!

While a green party means not overdoing it, don't worry that such a celebration will be too sparse or appear in any way stingy. In fact, a creative green celebration can be thoughtful and lovely -- and all them or enjoyable for being devoid of mass consumption, overspending, and waste. The focus is on celebrating; there's no reason it need be at the expense of the environment.

You're Invited!
One easy way to reduce the environmental impact of your celebration is to keep the guest list small. This will save on everything from place settings to transportation.

When it comes to the actual invitation, e-vites are an ecologically sound choice. Make them clever — and personal — by uploading a funny or beautiful picture. If you prefer snail-mail invites, consider crafting your own for maximum personality. Use items around the house, like recycled covers of cards received, or leftover cardstock from a work project.

Whether or not your invites are homemade, use 100 percent-recycled or tree-free papers. Most copy shops carry 100 percent-post-consumer recycled papers, but be sure to ask ahead.

At Your Service
Use non-disposable plates whenever possible. If you're having the event catered, most caterers will provide dishware. Otherwise, dig out all your old and best dishes, borrow from friends (mismatched settings are charming), and enlist some kitchen helpers (ahead of time!) to help with cleanup when the delightful day is done. Be sure to use green cleaning products – you'll find those at French Broad Food Co-op too!

Menu Matters
One of the best things you can do to shrink the carbon footprint of your party while supporting your local economy is to purchase local, organic food and drink. Choose organic produce, beer, soda, and wine, for example. Serve cheeses, wines, chocolates, and/or breads produced by local artisans. Purchase Fair Trade coffee, teas, chocolates, and spices whenever possible. Find out what's in season and develop your menu around it. Consider a meatless menu, which will be less expensive and more environmentally friendly. (If you do serve meat, make it organic and local.)

Don't overdo the quantity while ordering or purchasing your food, but if you have leftovers, donate them to your local soup kitchen or food-rescue organization, rather than letting them go to waste.

Transportation Togetherness
Arrange a carpool for local guests, or even distant guests who will be traveling similar routes. If friends and family live far away, consider traveling to them (for a wedding or commitment celebration, for example) and having small celebrations at several locations, so that fewer people will need to travel.

Gifting
If you enjoy gifting, food is often a good choice (think Fair Trade teas or spices), as are hand-crafted items. You might make old-fashioned pomanders using oranges and cloves, for example, or simple homemade sachets (make a big batch of potpourri and then divvy it up into small sachets made from lovely fabric or cloth hankies). You can find all the herbs and spices you need in the Bulk Room!

If you haven't the time or the inclination to make your own favors, look to others who craft for a living or hobby. Homemade candles and soaps (also available FBFC) make wonderful gifts. If you have only a small number of guests, consider giving a basket of personal care or household items to each. Look for appropriate items — like natural bristle hairbrushes, natural lotions and nail polish, kitchen towels — at the store.