Hosting a greener celebration is much easier than you'd think.
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Celebrating New Year's Eve is often marked by fireworks, dancing, and feasting coupled with a reflection of new possibilities. But seldom do our events focus on taking care of our beautiful planet. Certified green event planner JoAnn Moore points out that "an average event with 100 to 150 people can generate over 400 pounds of trash and 62 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Producing events that are less toxic and problematic to our environment is necessary now more than ever." And while your December 31 gathering might not reach that scale, Moore's practices are worth implementing: She follows the "4R" method—recycle, reuse, refurbish, and reimagine—and urges hosts to commit to 12 eco-friendly practices this year, adding 12 per new year. Moore warns, "We are at that point. We need to change, or our earth will change, and there's no going back." Luckily, it's easy to ring in the new year while still keeping Mother Nature at the forefront.

Friends on new year dinner party
Credit: svetikd / Getty Images

Invitations

No New Year's Eve gathering should be without invitations. Moore recommends eco-mission companies, like Paper Culture, which uses 100-percent post-consumer recycled paper and plants one tree per order. Another option that will save both time and trees is using paperless invitations from Green Envelope or Minted.

Dinnerware

Rent dishes and glassware instead of buying, or else dine with compostable and biodegradable options like wooden cutlery, palm leaf bowls, or plastic-free cutlery, which significantly helps the planet. According to Woodable, a company that offers wood utensil alternatives (and plants four trees for every three they harvest), of the 40 billion plastic utensils currently being produced worldwide, a large portion ends up in landfills (plastic cutlery is tough to recycle). "Companies with FSC certification are the ones we look for," Moore says, adding that we should "think outside of the box, too. Ask your guests to bring unique glassware and plates to form a cool, eclectic collage on the table."

Activities

A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, photo booths always win hearts during a New Year's Eve party. But instead of buying plastic props, have attendees bring their own. "Host a fashion show with a contest that awards the craziest hat winner," Moore offers. Set up selfie sticks or tripods for guests to use their phones versus giving out polaroids (which are not eco-friendly). If you are using e-invites with an online platform, ask all celebrants to post photos from their events or on their social media group page.

Decorations

Moore, who visits thrift shops to find décor, points out how "cost-effective it is to spend less on new things while decreasing the amount of energy and materials needed to ship packages to me." Instead of latex balloons and plastic decorations, craft decorations by turning old wrapping paper into a letter marquee sign or simply purchase recyclable options. Or, ask your guests to bring one exciting piece they no longer use. Favor washable runners and linens over paper, always, and when renting linens, pick companies that use nontoxic chemicals to wash them or reuse damaged linen, which cuts down on waste.

Food and Drinks

Organic farming produces less pollution during food and beverage production. On New Year's Eve, Moore suggests a "BYOOB (Bring Your Own Organic Booze) or BYOOD (Bring Your Own Organic Dish)" eating style, and encourages recipes sharing. On the day of the party, set up a pour-your-own-drink bar with organic wines, vodkas, beverages, and Champagnes.

Party Favors

Brainstorm cause-worthy and eco-friendly companies to use for party favors. Companies like Savannah Bee, whose mission is to save honey bees or the Arbor Day Foundation that replant forests. Use reusable bags for your favor bags, too. "It's time to focus on people doing better and getting better. Always work with companies, stores, and products that prioritize green practices whenever possible," Moore explains.

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