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Ten Tips for Throwing an Eco–friendly Party

By Zem Joaquin
House & Garden

Eco–entertaining used to be a bit of an oxymoron–tons of waste and temporary taste that ended up in a landfill. House & Garden Eco editor Zem Joaquin offers these tips on how to entertain green but fabulous. Plus, see a slideshow of eco–entertaining ideas.

Hire a green caterer
Every week, it seems, I hear about another company that is dedicated to green events. For my parties in northern California, I use Sillepere and Living Room Events, Others, like dvGreen in New York, work nationally. Or ask your favorite caterer if they throw green parties: most are willing to prepare organic meals and will use free–range or sustainably–harvested fish.

Serve organic beverages
Square One Organic Vodka ranks up there with the best boutique brands with none of the insecticides. Even their labels are printed with soy inks. There are some outstanding wines that are now certified organic or biodynamic. Frog’s Leap and Sinskey make excellent organic vino. My mother’s favorite, and a more affordable alternative, is Bonterra.

Burn soy candles
Soy wax burns cleaner and, unlike petroleum–based candles, are made from a renewable resource. Votives can be had from Kobo or Anna Sova, but this site will help you find a supplier of all kinds of soy candles near you.

Recycle your cutlery
While china is almost always re–used, disposable cutlery at casual events can mount up. You can use compostable cutlery formed from sugar can, corn husks, or switch grass. Look for Papcorn, which has sleekly modern biodegradable dinnerware, or Preserve for cultery and cups that come in a variety of gorgeous hues and made out of recycled (and recyclable) material. Sinless Buying is worth a look too for basics.

Burn soy candles
Soy wax burns cleaner and, unlike petroleum–based candles, are made from a renewable resource. Votives can be had from Kobo or Anna Sova, but this site will help you find a supplier of all kinds of soy candles near you.

Set the table with organic linens
Traditional cotton uses 25% of the world’s insecticides. Rawganique or VivaTerra have good organic tablecloth and napkin options.

Know where your flowers come from
Organic flowers dramatically reduce the insecticides in our bodies of water, and supporting purveyors like Organic Bouquet will encourage other growers to go organic. But even better are locally grown flowers, which use less packaging and fossil fuel to transport them to your site.

Pour tap water
The best restaurants are slowly switching over to tap water. So should you. Transporting heavy bottles from remote places (even, lately, Fiji!) uses a lot of resources, as does manufacturing glass or plastic containers. If you’re worried about the taste of the local water, filter your tap water with a faucet or pitcher unit.

Fit yourself out with eco–couture
Linda Loudermilk makes exquisite prêt–a–porter pieces, Charmone Shoes makes sexy, sustainable shoes, and Laura Merkin even makes this chic metallic clutch made of cork.

Primp with healthy hair and makeup
John Masters sleekly–packaged products smell great, perform well and tread lightly on the earth. Though most toxin–free make–up leaves much to be desired, Jane Iredale?s mineral–based make–up provides great coverage and is available in magnificent colors.

Make a clean getaway
The dirtiest part of any event, of course, is what you throw away. Recycled what you can, and put the rest in eco–friendly garbage bags, like these from Seventh Generation.

Originally published online in the September 18, 2007 issue of House & Garden

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