Who doesn’t love a celebration? They give us a chance to share happiness, food, and drinks. And for some of us, a chance for our inner event planner to come out. Colour themes, brightly coloured balloons and embellished decor go hand in hand with any celebration, but are they sustainable? Here are ways to host a ‘sustainabration” instead.
Banish the balloons
Balloons look pretty and everyone loves a balloon shot for the ‘gram at their party. But these are hardly sustainable. Balloons are single-use and many end up in the ocean or the middle of a nature reserve. Animals might mistake it for food. It’s time to rethink how we celebrate.
“We’re finding that more people are looking for environmentally friendly options for their functions,” says Colleen Lategan, Banqueting Manager at Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront. “This can be from the utensils they want to use, to having as little plastic as possible and, of course, asking for meat-free options because of the impact meat has on the environment”.
Being creative with ‘sustainabrations’ or sustainable celebrations includes using what’s around you. Repurpose newspapers and magazines by using the pages as table decor. Use websites like Pinterest for ideas on how to make newspaper flowers or table decorations. Newspaper also makes for great vintage-style wrapping paper for gifts. Spare pieces of material work well as reusable wrapping paper. Retailers like Mr Price now sell reusable wrapping paper made of fabric.
Consider using glass instead of plastic or styrofoam cups and plates. Single-use items are heavier on our budgets as we have to repeatedly buy them. They also have more of an environmental impact.
Chefs and agriculturalists agree that the best time to get the best nutrition from produce is when an item is in season. So don’t buy expensive out-of-season produce.
This notion is echoed by Chef Norman Heath of Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront who notes: “There are numerous reasons for using produce in season. It tastes better as it has ripened under natural conditions, without any artificial interference. It is also fresher and likely sourced from local farmers. Non-imported foods also leave a much smaller carbon footprint in comparison to imported foods.”
Read more on ways to make meals more eco-friendly
Wooden spoons and wooden knives, forks and spoons are less harmful to our environment than plastic cutlery. Use paper straws instead of plastic.
Gifts that last
Simply put, gifting back is sustainable and conscious gifting. As the saying goes, “if you’ve received one pair of socks for your birthday, you’ve received them all”. Instead of asking friends and family for yet another pair of socks, consider asking them to donate the money or time they would have used on purchasing a gift.
Ideas include being part of a flower planting volunteering session with you, asking for gifts of dog or cat food and donating those to local shelters or asking for non-perishable food items that can be passed on to a food bank or shelter. Platforms like Facebook allow people to select charitable organisations to ask friends to donate to and allow them to pay directly to those charities on the platform.
For tight budgets, consider donating leftover desserts and drinks from a celebration to your closest kids’ home or shelter to share with someone in need.
If you have flowers at your celebration, don’t trash them! Share the joy with a local senior centre or hospital. You can also use the flowers at the celebration for confetti or if you’re celebrating at a venue, donate the flowers to them to do so.
For decor for large events, consider using what you already have at home – mirrors, indoor plants, and leftover sheets of paper can all be used to decorate. Rope friends in and ask them to bring a certain colour or shape home decor item to add to your celebration’s decor. They can, of course, take it back home afterwards.
And lastly, have fun. Our combined efforts to do the smallest things to help the Earth make the biggest difference.