Minimising waste with sustainable party planning

By Ashmeeta Subra 21 February 2024

The best party is one that brings joy to you and your guests while avoiding contributing to plastic pollution and landfill, whether it’s a wedding, birthday party or a simple get together with family and friends. 

From organising party preparations, sending out invitations, and entertaining guests, hosting a party can be a great deal of fun, but often wasteful. The good news is that it’s possible and easier than you think to organise an enjoyable yet sustainable celebration with far less waste – starting with digital or recycled paper invites over traditional physical ones. 

Here are Planet Ark’s top tips for throwing a sustainable party:  

Glass Jar decor photos-by-lanty-8GtqUWGMRRw-unsplash

Venue and decorations  

Consider having an outdoor party to reduce energy consumption, like organising a cute picnic or a garden party. For evening celebrations, solar-powered string lights offer the same warm ambiance as fairy lights without relying on electricity.  

For decorations, skip disposable plastic options, and choose decor you could reuse in the future. Get creative with materials like leafy branches and recycled jars to create personalised nature-inspired centrepieces. You could even ask guests if they have any suitable items to contribute!  

Fruits platter (Image: Brooke Lark/Unsplash)


When planning your party menu, consider locally sourced and seasonal fruits and vegetables as these will generally have a lower footprint. Another tip to reduce the carbon footprint of your meal is to include some plant-based dishes or make the event vegan-friendly. To learn about how your food choices impact the environment, check out BBC’s  Climate Change Food Calculator.  

If you’re hiring a caterer for a larger event, it’s worth seeking out local caterers that prioritise sustainability and use locally sourced ingredients. For desserts, support your local bakeries and artisanal dessert shops, or opt for a refreshing fruit platter with seasonal fruits.  

Additionally, ensure you are planning portion numbers according to the number of expected guests and the portion sizes aren’t too large to minimise food waste. How about putting those saved reusable containers from the kitchen cupboards to use? They’re perfect for guests to carry home any leftover food from the party.  


Party waste  

If possible, plan ahead to avoid using disposable or single-use partyware, choosing reusable utensils, plates, and cloth napkins instead. While the goal is to minimise waste altogether, set up labelled bins for composting, recycling, and general rubbish to ensure all party wastes are disposed of responsibly and sustainably. You could also remind your guests to be more conscious of their waste and dispose items in the right bins at the beginning of the event.  

Sustainable Gift Wrap priscilla-du-preez-ffSGBn2xTSI-unsplash


As gifts often come in layers of plastics and unnecessary packaging, feel free to kindly request sustainable alternatives to your guests by making a note in your invitations. You could provide some guidance by suggesting plastic-free or experience-based gifts. Sometimes the best gift your guests can provide is their presence! 

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Kids’ party favours  

Planning a kid’s party and want to make it fun with some exciting yet sustainable party bags? Opt for plastic-free party favours to avoid contributing to plastic pollution while still adding a touch of excitement for the little ones. See our previous article on sustainable party bag ideas to help you ditch unnecessary plastic, including fun activities and crafts kids can do at the party or bring home.  



Not every party needs a new outfit! We often have hidden treasures in our closets that can be repurposed for a stylish party look. Before heading out to buy a new ensemble, consider revisiting your wardrobe – where with a bit of repairing, mix-matching, or upcycling, you could put together the perfect outfit for the occasion.  

For themed party costumes, consider renting special outfits or borrowing from family and friends rather than buying new. If you find you really must purchase an outfit, explore your local thrift stores for pre-loved gems or choose timeless pieces to avoid becoming a victim of changing fashion trends! 

For more information on composting at home, visit Recycling Near You.  

Ashmeeta Subra
With background in international relations and marketing communications, Ashmeeta is excited to use her skills to encourage positive environmental actions through Planet Ark. She believes that by taking small actions, we can help make a big difference and be good stewards of our planet. Outside of work, she loves spending time in nature and enjoying downtime at the beach.