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How-To: Be the Hostess With the Eco Mostess

Want to learn how to make your Summer soirees a little more eco friendly? Elizabeth Rogers, the best-selling author of The Green Book, recently gave me some tips for throwing parties that won't negatively impact the planet. So many times when we're busy organizing a backyard bash or a big dinner party, we forget the impact that all of our disposable cups and plastic party favors can have on the environment. But not to fear! Just because you're keeping the earth in mind doesn't mean that your party has to be any less fun. In fact, it can be even more so — and these tips are even budget friendly! Elizabeth recommends that, "While preparing for your party, stop by a local swap meet or thrift store for fun vintage items you can reuse all summer long."

Want to hear Elizabeth's smart entertaining tips? Then


  • Instead of running through dozens of plastic cups and paper plates, vintage glass-wear and dishes found at swap meets, will add a unique touch to your dinner party. Using dishes already in existence instead of buying brand new ones or disposable is 100% eco friendly. Plus they can be reused all summer long, saving you upwards of $100 in disposable paper, plastic and Styrofoam products.
  • Approximately 70 million bottles of water are drunk in America everyday and, because petroleum is used to manufacture these bottles, the impact on the environment is significant. For your party use vintage glass pitchers filled with filtered water. My favorite is PUR because it adds an extra level of filtration, so it has a crisp taste. Your guests will love the vintage feel, and you’ll be saving yourself the cost of buying all those plastic water bottles.
  • Vintage tablecloths and napkins, found on your swap meet excursion, are a more fashionable way to set your table than paper or plastic throw-away table covers. Antique lace will lend a summery elegance to your party, and after a quick spin through the washing machine it will be ready for your next soiree. Paper napkins and paper towels are two of the reasons paper waste in the US has jumped from 30 million tons to 84 million tons a year since the '60s. So, as well as being more durable, cloth napkins will prevent your party from ending in the trash.
  • Centerpieces are a sophisticated finishing touch, when decorating for your party. Instead of buying cut flowers that travel in gas-guzzling cooler trucks, and will be wilted and gone before the end of the week, potted plants are a beautiful alternative. Potted orchids require little care and will look stunning in your home after the party has ended. The cost of purchasing several potted plants for your table tends to be less than purchasing bouquets of cut flowers from a florist or the grocery store, plus the flowers will be ready to shine again at your next party.
  • Light your party with soy candles in Mason jars. You’ll save on electricity, plus soy candles don’t emit carbon or smoke as they burn and purchasing soy candles supports soy farmers. Mason jars, have been used for canning since the 1850’s and these antique glass jars can be purchased for a few dollars at local flee markets. The soft candlelight will lend a charming Midsummer Night’s Eve quality to the evening.

For more excellent tips, as well as to learn more about Elizabeth and The Green Book, check out her website.


Join The Conversation
Phorrest99 Phorrest99 9 years
I love these tips! I'll have to remember them for my forthcoming housewarming party! :)
emalove emalove 9 years
Great ideas!
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I'd just use my regular plates and throw them in the dishwasher after. I also set out regular cups and have everyone put a sticker with their name on it right on the cup so no one gets mixed up. I just don't use tableclothes or centerpieces. There is no need with my friends and family. I'd doubt they'd even notice.
arcticpuppet arcticpuppet 9 years
I love your eco tips!! These are great and will definetely be used in my household (and everyone elses when I make them!!!) :]
PinkLizzie PinkLizzie 9 years
As opposed to going out and buying new water pitchers, another thing I've seen done is reusing wine bottles to serve water. They look lovely if you just remove the label and frost them, but I've been entertaining the idea of getting glass paints and decorating them to add a bit of personalization.
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