I hope that the success of my Halloween party will be measured by the heft of the recycling bin afterwards. It was both more and less difficult than I expected to make the shindig ecofriendly. Fortunately it was a simple affair- a few snacks, drinks, and a nod at the reason for the season (refined sugar and the color orange). First, the decoration: I used some heftier paper streamers that made it through last year’s party and a string of paper pumpkins from a late seasonal gift that also escaped said melee. Inexplicably, these were in a box under my bed, along with the leftover orange plastic ware and napkins and a few red ribbons- it looks like Christmas will benefit from my packing tendencies, also. I found a few other decorations on clearance, but I didn’t purchase anything that wasn’t useful in itself and that I didn’t like enough to use regularly. Orange and black aren’t my color scheme of choice, but I found non-garish dark orange placemats and a few sparkly black bowls whose Halloweenic nature will be completely hidden when dispersed among the contents of my apartment. None of the snacks required silverware, and only a few napkins were needed in anticipation of party fouls. All the decorations were packed up afterwards for next year.
Comestibles were almost as simple to green. I stuck with mostly canned beer, since aluminum cans tend to contain a good amount of recycled material and can be fully recycled themselves. The available glass bottles had their caps collected for my jewelry-inclined friend to experiment with as threatened. Solo cups remaining from the last party (and cleaned!) were put out for the other available liquids. Soft drinks were purchased in 2L quantities, since those are shared and come with less packaging than canned sodas, though their tops are not recyclable. In the aftermath, the surviving cups were collected and washed for the next bash. Grist has advice on whether to go reusable and wash after parties, or use paper products and dump, and this was the toughest decision due to the complex calculations of life cycle analysis and comparison of different resources depleted. We’re not in a drought, so I used a little bit of water washing the cups by hand. There are biodegradable partyware lines, but “not having to buy new stuff” trumped exploring for those items. I didn’t serve food, just organic chips, organic salsa, and candy, and picked candy for it’s addition to the color scheme and lack of bulky, redundant packaging (MnMs, candy corn). In the latter, I was partially thwarted by my thoughtful and well-meaning gentleman friend, who showed up with a bag of doubly-wrapped candies for me. No worries, though, those are best for party favors. Stuffing handfuls of MnMs in your guests’ pockets as they leave is not quite the same as a contained box of Nerds, despite being much more entertaining (for you).
The final touch was the aggressive recycling box, which, after it has been emptied, will be available for me to bring to any parties that I may, in the future, be invited to. All in all, we ended up only tossing out the sales tags on the bowls and place mats, a few napkins and paper towels used for spills, packaging for some of the candy and chips, and a tangle of toilet paper turned upon an uncostumed guest- I run a strict costume party, and he knew the chance he took.