Eco-friendly entertaining is important for the planet. And with the ban on single-use plastic growing in many locations, it will soon become mandatory. But can outdoor parties using sustainable items also be chic? With these eco-friendly home decor brands, the answer is an emphatic yes. Our correspondent Julie Chang Murphy has done the research, and she’s sharing the best sustainable luxury items – straws, serveware, napkins, and more – for outdoor parties.
can eco-friendly entertaining actually be chic?
Before the ban on plastic straws started sweeping the nation, I must sheepishly admit: I never considered their environmental impact. So small and inconspicuous, it seemed like plastic bags and water bottles were the big baddies and more deserving of outright bans.
Seemingly out of nowhere, suddenly now there are all these alternatives to plastic straws– made of metal and paper, but also corn and wheat at our favorite cafes and restaurants. Was it that easy? Then why haven’t we been using them this whole time?
It got us thinking about our summer entertaining plans. We at Dandelion Chandelier love hosting get-togethers and parties in the summer. There is a relaxed, spontaneous and casual quality to them that takes some of the stress out of prepping and decorating. And when the host or hostess feels like things are under control, the guests can let loose too. And that’s when the fun happens.
non-disposable items are an option
Paper and plastic are usually the go-to for easy cleanup. There are so many attractive color and motif options that they can be hard to resist. And while we’ve been to outdoor parties where the impeccable hostess provides real flatware, wrapped in substantial cloth napkins and porcelain dinnerware for 30 or more guests, we prefer to attend those kinds of parties, rather than host them. Hint: Find yourself a Type-A friend who lives in a home with a lot of storage and shelving.
For the rest of us, let’s challenge ourselves to use more sustainable serveware this summer. The options these days are elegant and modern and also sturdy enough to hold all the food coming off the grill. Their neutral palettes work with any theme, and they’re a great conversation starter.
eco-friendly home decor brands to the rescue
Imagine this conversation in your yard this summer:
You: “Did you know these plates are made from sugarcane?”
Your guest: “Really? To think sugar was such a luxury that it used to be known as “white gold.” Now we’re using it to hold hot dogs!”
You: “Ha Ha Ha! Oh Beau, you are a hoot!”
See? It’s a no-brainer, just like non-plastic straws. Here are some terrific options for eco-friendly entertaining that we’ve scouted out just in time for Memorial Day and beyond.
the best sustainable luxury items for outdoor parties
Here are the eco-friendly home decor brands that are both stylish and functional.
Summer beverages require straws. Lemonades, Mojitos, Pina Coladas. For a flashy, reusable option for eco-friendly entertaining, you don’t just have to go with stainless steel. On Etsy, there are a treasure trove of finishes in rose gold (swoon), lagoon blue, iridescent rainbow, and even engraved options with custom phrases like “Sip Sip Hooray” and “The Last Straw.”
Glass straws are another elevated reusable option. These are made from borosilicate, the main ingredient in Pyrex products which makes them shatterproof. And imagine these these dreamy pastel colored ones coming out of a fruity drink. Don’t forget to instagram!
Tropical straws and tropical drinks are a match made in heaven. These bamboo straws made by Bali artisans are completely biodegradable AND reusable. As an added bonus, they are also dishwasher safe. For a similar look, check out these straws made from 100% natural wheat stems. Just don’t give them to someone who is going carb-free because they kind of look like spaghetti!
For more simple affairs, there are compostable straws made from plants. You can’t even tell the difference between these and plastic straws. So you might want to properly label them, lest everyone think you’re some kind of earth-hating monster.
Sustainable Luxury Serveware
We know there is something wonderfully nostalgic about using those shiny red plastic plates and cups. But you won’t even miss them once you see these infinitely more eco-friendly options.
sugar cane, bamboo, and more
Wasara produces everything from plates, bowls, tumblers, and trays with tree-free renewable materials (sugar cane fibers, bamboo and reed pulps). The line is compostable and sturdy. And we love the sophisticated minimalist Japanese design.
If you want to stick with bamboo for that timeless earthy look, Bambu has been using certified organic and renewable bamboo for the last 15 years. They offer a variety of plate styles, flatware and napkins. If you’ve ever been to Asia, where bamboo is commonly used as scaffolding, you can rest assured that these plates can handle your (I mean, my) massive appetite.
Palm leaf is another 100% renewable resource that is used for disposable serveware. It has a wood-look to it that is so harmonious with outdoor entertaining. No trees are ever harvested or cut down for VerTerra’s plates, trays and utensils. And no chemicals, waxes, dyes or additives are applied. We were surprised to learn that they are also microwave safe.
After the juice is extracted from sugarcane, the dry pulpy residue leftover is known as bagasse. Bagasse is used to create these simple plates, bowls and cups. They are compatible with cold and hot foods and microwave safe, as well.
If you prefer a more substantial look, but don’t want to risk your porcelain breaking around the barefoot brigade by the pool, these lightweight wheat straw plates and cups come are eco-friendly, unbreakable and can handle being put in the dishwasher and microwave. They come in appealing muted tones so you don’t have to sacrifice style either.
To complete your eco-friendly soirée, tear-off napkins (much like a paper towel roll) are a must-have. These cocktail napkins are compostable. But before you do that, they can be washed and reused up to 5 times. Eco-friendly home decor brand MYdrap offers a suite of attractive patterns, so you can mix and match your napkins and placemats.
We also love these tear-off placements with gorgeous illustrations that are printed with soy-based ink on recycled craft paper.
Instead of balloons, consider these vibrant and romantic rice paper and recycled paper garlands, pom poms and lanterns. Similarly, these festive confetti dots and dried wildflower confetti decompose in days.
Ok, party people! Items from these eco-friendly home decor brands are all available in bulk qualities and are quite affordable. So you have no excuse not to have them on hand all summer. Whether its for a wedding, baby shower, Memorial Day cookout, or an impromptu dinner with friends and family under the stars, you can be an eco-friendly entertaining hero.
Are you ready to join the challenge? We’re going to save the earth, one party at a time.
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Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, fitness and even investigating police misconduct. Julie lives in NYC where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing and spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.
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