eco-friendly summer gathering with three friends around a table

Reduce Waste (Without Sacrificing Style) While Entertaining This Summer

6 min read

Summer celebrations are cherished traditions, but these parties often come with an environmental cost. With increasing awareness of our impact on the planet, finding ways to reduce waste without sacrificing style is now a priority for many of us! Eco-friendly entertaining is not only a responsible choice but also an opportunity to celebrate our creativity. By making mindful decisions about how we entertain this summer, we can host memorable gatherings that delight our guests and honor our commitment to sustainability. This DesignDash guide offers all the practical tips you need to help you reduce waste while maintaining the unique atmosphere that makes summer parties truly special. Read on to learn more!

Our Top Tips for Eco-Friendly Entertaining This Summer

#1 Go Digital with Invitations

First on our list of summer entertaining tips is to opt for electronic invitations instead of paper ones. This reduces waste and adds a modern touch to your event planning. Plus, guests won’t lose the digital versions of your party invites! Platforms like Evite and Paperless Post allow you to design and send stylish invitations without the need for physical paper (or the delay that comes with ordering hard copies). We love the Exuberance invitations pictured above from Paperless Post!

#2 Manage RSVPs Electronically

Similarly, encourage guests to RSVP electronically to avoid over-preparing food and supplies. This way, you’ll host a more organized and waste-free event. Online RSVP tools like Google Forms or integrated options within digital invitation platforms help you track guest responses efficiently.

#3 Choose Reusable Tableware

Use attractive reusable plates, cups, and cutlery made from ceramic, glass, or stainless steel for an elegant and sustainable setup. Investing in quality tableware not only elevates the aesthetics of your event but also significantly reduces the need for single-use items. Reusable tableware can be easily cleaned and stored for future events. You won’t regret this long-term investment in sustainability and style.

#4 Opt for Compostable Tableware

If reusable items aren’t feasible for your budget, timeline, or the scale of your party, choose compostable or biodegradable tableware to maintain convenience without compromising on sustainability. Products made from materials like bamboo, palm leaves, or compostable plastics can break down naturally—thereby reducing the environmental impact of your summer party. These items offer the much-needed convenience of disposable products with the added benefit of being eco-friendly.

#5 Switch to Cloth Napkins

Replace paper napkins with elegant cloth ones that can be washed and reused. (Bonus points if you personalize them!) Cloth napkins come in many colors and designs, but we recommend opting for a classic color palette you can repurpose for a wide variety of events.

#6 Establish Relationships with Local Farms

Serve fresh, local, and seasonal foods to reduce your party’s carbon footprint and support local farmers while delighting your guests with delicious, in-season produce. Building relationships with local farms not only ensures you get the freshest ingredients, but it also supports your local economy. Seasonal produce is often more flavorful and sustainable—making it a win-win for your event and the environment.

#7 Buy in Bulk

Reduce packaging waste by buying ingredients in bulk once you know how many guests will attend your party. Bulk purchasing minimizes the amount of packaging that ends up in landfills and can be so much more economical. Stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and some local co-ops offer bulk buying options that help you prepare for your event efficiently while keeping waste to a minimum.

#8 Plan for Leftovers

Plan meals carefully to minimize leftovers and provide guests with reusable containers to take home any extra food. Thoughtful meal planning can help ensure that you prepare the right amount of food for your guests, but if you do have leftovers, invest in reusable containers. Head to your local thrift store for small ceramic dishes or inexpensive Tupperware that your guests need not return. Having these on-hand lets guests take leftovers home—ensuring that nothing goes to waste while giving them a little extra to enjoy later.

#9 Use Beverage Dispensers

Use large dispensers for drinks instead of individual bottles or cans. Not only is this more attractive and seamless, but it also promises a waste-free beverage solution. You’ll minimize waste from single-use containers and limit the amount of trash strewn across tables and picnic blankets. After all, post-party clean-up is the worse part of hosting gatherings.

#10 Decorate with Reusable Items

Invest in decorations that can be used for multiple events. Reusable decorations like fairy lights, fabric banners, and glass centerpieces can be stored and reused for future events. These items often look more polished and can be adapted to different themes and occasions, so you won’t need to purchase new pieces for every event. Add flowers from your garden to customize your summer parties, or use plants planned for larger containers or beds as centerpieces in the interim.

#11 Incorporate Natural Elements

Decorate with flowers, leaves, and stones that can be composted or tossed back into your garden after the party. Natural decorations bring a touch of the outdoors inside and can be easily repurposed after your event. Many are biodegradable and communicate your home’s unique personality by rooting it in the landscape. We love that continuity!

#12 Get Creative with DIY Decor

Create your own decorations using recycled materials or items you already have at home. DIY projects can be a fun and personal way to decorate your event while keeping costs and waste down. Recycled materials like glass jars, paper, and fabric scraps can be transformed into beautiful decor items with a bit of creativity. Encourage your kids to join the fun, or invite friends over prior to the event for an intimate gathering.

#13 Label Waste Bins Clearly

Clearly label recycling, composting, and trash bins to help guests dispose of waste properly. Clear labeling helps ensure that recyclable and compostable items end up in the right place—reducing contamination and cutting down on the time you’ll have to spend cleaning up post-party.

#14 Set Up a Compost Bin

Similarly, have a compost bin available for organic waste like food scraps and compostable tableware. Setting up a compost bin allows you to turn food scraps and compostable items into nutrient-rich compost for your garden while keeping trash out of the landfill. (Bear in mind that certain counties and cities across the U.S. actually require this. Check with your local municipality to ensure compliance.)

#15 Plan Eco-Friendly Activities

Plan activities that don’t generate waste like board games, nature walks, croquet, or storytelling. Eco-friendly activities provide fun and engaging entertainment without creating additional waste. Your guests will appreciate the variety at the party, while you’ll be able to enjoy any games purchased for the event each weekend that follows.

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#16 Use Recyclable Craft Materials

If including crafts in your party itinerary, be sure to use recyclable or natural materials. Craft projects can be a great way to entertain guests, especially children, but they are often quite wasteful. Choose materials that can be recycled or are biodegradable instead of single-use foam, plastic, or other materials that will litter your garden or end up in a landfill.

#17 Give Edible or Plantable Favors

Offer edible favors like homemade jams or plantable gifts like seed packets. Edible favors are a delicious and practical gift that guests can enjoy, while plantable favors like seed packets encourage guests to grow their own plants. This promotes sustainability long after your event has ended.

#18 Utilize Solar or LED Lighting

Use solar-powered lights or LED lights to save energy and create a cozy outdoor ambiance. Solar-powered and LED lights provide bright, long-lasting illumination while consuming less energy. This can be a pricey up-front investment, but you will be able to enjoy your backyard all summer long without paying sky-high energy costs.

#19 Encourage Carpooling

Encourage guests to carpool or use public transportation to reduce your event’s carbon footprint and promote sustainable travel. Ask that each group assign a designated driver ahead of time to ensure your guests get home safely after the event.

#20 Suggest Biking or Walking

If guests live nearby, suggest biking or walking. Just be sure to provide a safe space for their bikes or scooters.

Which Summer Parties Will You Host This Season?

As we embrace this season of sun-soaked gatherings and outdoor festivities, let’s make a collective effort to host more sustainable summer parties. We hope our tips inspire you to reduce waste without sacrificing style this summer. Now, we’d love to hear from you! How do you plan to incorporate eco-friendly practices into your summer entertaining? Share your ideas and plans in the comments below so we can inspire each other to create beautiful, memorable, and environmentally conscious events this summer.