Red, White, Blue…and Green

It’s that time of the year. You & your friends want to have a good time celebrating liberty and independence without having to think about much else besides surviving the heat or how delicious your grilling is. With record high heat and pressing water issues leaving us parched, there is a need to party responsibly, in more ways than one.  We’re here to help you plan a fun, uncomplicated party with easy clean up that is kind to the environment:



  1. Backyard events can create a lot of trash which we all want to avoid. Easy fix? Opt for reusable items. Invest in cloth napkins, reusable tableware such as plates, cups, straws (made from glass, bamboo, or stainless steel), and utensils. Wash these items in maximum loads to cut down on energy costs and conserve water (a must do as the summer heats up and water usage peaks!). If you have a big party and doing the dishes would take you days, look for compostable, plant-based wares that biodegrade.
  2. Choose cups that can be labeled so guests aren’t using more than they need. Whether you choose glass with dry-erase markers or stickers as glass markers or even plastic cups with permanent pens, helping your guests find their cup will save time and lower waste. Added bonus: you can have fun with it!
  3. Design separated waste bins with signage. Make your clean up easier by separating waste from the very beginning. Cut down on your landfill input by recycling used wares and composting food scraps. Food scraps that can be composted account for 7% of household waste. If you don’t want to deal with worms for composting, research local programs.* Many cities offer municipal pick-ups for compost, or you can go to a local drop off center. Download a recycle sign!
  4. Be creative with your signage to make it easier on yourself and your guests who prefer not to stand awkwardly at the trashcans for longer than necessary as they try to figure out what goes where.
  5. Serve local ingredients for a delicious, guilt-free meal. Most foods can travel up to 1,000 miles to get to freezers or grocery stores near you.* If you’re in Sonoma County, you shouldn’t have to worry about that too much because of the agriculture that abounds. Take advantage of it!  Research local farm stands or farmer’s markets for ingredients that make your local economy and your local bellies happy.
  6. The truth is…grilling is fun. Have you considered the impact of the charcoal that makes barbeque so delicious? You can go all out and invest in some very cool solar technology that enables you to cook outdoors with zero-emissions, or you can switch to propane which has less of an impact than charcoal. If you really, really prefer charcoal, use a chimney starter instead of toxic lighter fluid to get the grill going. You can also use wood briquettes that come from sustainable sources.*

Green event planning doesn’t have to be difficult. You can be the spangled star of the party with these eco-friendly party tricks. Little changes in the way you set up, deal with waste & recycling and making your guests aware of what you’re doing is a step in the right direction.

-Sabrina, Sustainability Intern

*Provided by Practically Green, an online sustainability metrics tracking portal. For more info, please visit: