By Christa Adams
As the football cliché goes, everyone is going to be leaving it on the field this weekend. Just don’t look for them to leave as much garbage and waste in the surrounding dumpsters, bins, and landfills as you might expect. Since 2020, the most-watched event in US sports and broadcasting — some estimates suggest as many as 90 million Americans intend to either host or go to a game-themed party — has slashed its single-use plastic in an effort toward going zero waste. (This is a herculean task, considering how major sporting events consume energy and generate mountains of food and plastic waste.)
So as professional football explores ways to throw more sustainable celebrations, why not do the same by hosting your own eco-friendly party? Read on to discover what you can do to enjoy the day sustainably.
1. Choose eco-friendly decorations
Instead of purchasing flimsy plastic decorations that will be discarded, consider investing in decorations that can be reused for future events. Green, black and white stripes, as well as football shapes, are popular decor — and can be easily reused for other events — from another game day to a birthday celebration. Keep a few things in mind. We recommend looking for items made from recycled or biodegradable materials, such as paper streamers and cotton or burlap tablecloths. You can also shop secondhand for these items. Choose neutral decorations so that the items can be reused time and time again. Then, rather than using single-use decorations like foam fingers and plastic football streamers, incorporate these elements in your food or drink displays. Design a football-shaped cake or get creative with a charcuterie board.
2. Use reusable plates and utensils
Disposable plates and cutlery are convenient, but they create unnecessary waste. When we stop doing what’s convenient and get into the habit of doing what’s better, soon enough what’s better becomes the natural choice. So instead of choosing single-use plates and cutlery, opt for reusable plates and utensils you already have. If you don’t have enough to go around, ask your guests to bring their own. Plus, if you develop an efficient clean-up routine (check out this guide for inspiration), you’ll waste less time standing over the sink after your party.
3. Buy local and organic food
Local and organic food is fresher and healthier because it uses cleaner growing methods without harmful chemicals. But it also helps support your local economy and reduces your carbon footprint. This is a great way to incorporate sustainability into your party.
Make a list of ingredients you’ll need: cheese, bread, meats, fruits, and veggies, to name a few. Then, scan local farmer’s markets and health food stores to find your ingredients.
4. Watch your food waste
Never mind plastic — food waste, too, is a significant contributor to climate change due to the methane produced when it’s left to rot in landfills. So be careful not to prepare too much food in the first place. And even then, save your leftovers. Ask your guests to bring containers to take extras home. You can also investigate how to donate your leftovers to a local food bank or shelter — good deeds that are also sustainable!
5. Choose sustainable drinks
When stocking up on drinks, opt for cans and bottles that can be recycled instead of plastic ones. We also recommend choosing drinks made from organic ingredients and using kegs or pitchers to reduce packaging waste. If you know there will be plenty of drinks going around, a keg will prove much more environmentally responsible.
6. Add eco-friendly entertainment
Parties are a perfect chance to enjoy quality time with friends you might not see very often. So, for those attendees less interested in every play — and more into hanging out with good company — why not consider adding extra entertainment options to the evening? Better yet, board games and outdoor activities can all be done sustainably — from lawn games to classic card games that are ideal for groups. After all, no one ever went to a party and complained about having too many fun things to do.
7. Switch off lights and unused appliances
For a warm, inviting space, turn to eco-friendly LED bulbs and soy-wax candles or incense. From there, turn off all unnecessary lights and appliances, and remind your guests to switch off lights when they exit the bathroom and other areas. Not only will this reduce energy consumption, if you practice it regularly, it will save you money, too.
8. Recycle what you can
Take steps to avoid waste before kickoff, such as ensuring recycling bins are available for your guests. Prioritize the recycling over the trash and remind guests to recycle their bottles or cans accordingly. Also, be aware of what can’t be recycled, including most single-use packaging, soiled napkins and paper towels, and greasy pizza boxes. In the U.S., some states don’t recycle glass — and the country only has a 33% glass-recycling rate overall, so it’s worth investigating local alternatives for recycling glass. For example, some organizations and artists have ways of giving glass a second life.
9. Clean up using eco-friendly solutions
No amount of preparation can completely guard your clothes and surroundings from the messes, spills, and stains that come with any party — especially when the beer, wings, and pizza sauce are plentiful. If your party leads to a load — or more — of unexpected laundry, be sure to turn to our eco-friendly laundry strips. By making the switch from traditional detergent, not only will you help combat plastic pollution, but you’ll be sparing your home and family — as well as the surrounding waterways — from a multitude of dangerous toxic chemicals.