Used Paper towels, napkins, paper plates, and tissues are all paper products that are not recyclable. Although for outdoor parties, paper plates are better than plastic, paper plates coated with plastic and designs to prevent water from destroying them aren’t degradable. Choosing sturdier biodegradable options like these palm plates is better. There are also bamboo utensils to replace plastic ones. You can also use your regular stainless steel utensils or buy a large inexpensive set for parties. Flatware takes little room to store and in the dishwasher to reuse.
Ceramic plates and glass cups are best but if you're afraid of things breaking, buy a nicer melamine set you can easily wash and reuse for years to come. Yes, melamine is made of plastic but it’s better that you can rewash and reuse instead of disposable ones. You can find them inexpensively, you won’t worry about them breaking, and most are also dishwasher safe.
Paper napkins are convenient for summer parties but larger napkins can be downsized to smaller cocktail-sized napkins when needing something disposable. Better yet swap the paper for cloth napkins you can wash and reuse. Cloth napkins come in tons of pretty patterns and colors and make get-togethers outside feel a little nicer. They are also small and easy to throw in with the wash. If you are worried about wrinkles get thicker chunkier woven napkins instead of linen so they don’t wrinkle as easily.
The meat industry takes a toll on the environment. Lean more towards healthier and filling veggies and grains for a green summer party menu. Many summer veggies are great for grilling include asparagus, squash, and peppers either in strips, or some work well on skewers with other veggies like onions. For some ideas on meatless burger alternatives check out a previous post here on TuTu’s Green World.
Most fireworks, sparklers, and firecrackers are not biodegradable, often ending up being washed out to sea or dumped in fields. Some of the most common fireworks are made up of charcoal, sulfur fuel, and potassium nitrate so be sure to choose eco-friendly fireworks. In terms of decorations steer away from plastic disposable party decorations and balloons. Latex balloons, even natural latex, don't biodegrade easily. Biodegradable balloons can still take many years to decompose, by which time they could have caused serious harm, or death, to any number of animals.
As we begin to have our summer fun I hope you will look to make some changes to your outdoor parties to make them a little more friendly to the environment. Little changes can make a big impact in the long run and often eco-friendlier options like cloth napkins and reusable plates make getting together feel a little more special.
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