From the natural soap and the organic cotton towels in the guest bathroom to the soy candles on the table, party planning for Renée Loux means taking advantage of dozens of opportunities to make choices that are kind to the environment as well as to her guests. "Hosting guests is a great opportunity to turn people on to green practices and products, and to exemplify that living green is not a compromise but an enhancement," says Loux, the author of Easy Green Living and host of It's Easy Being Green on the Fine Living Network.
The art of balance seems to come naturally to Loux, who began practicing hatha yoga when she was 17. "Ahimsa (nonharming) is one of the first principles of a yogic lifestyle. When I think about being non-violent, I think about being in harmony with everything around me, about living in balance with our ecological system. It just feels kinder."
Here are some simple gestures that will make your parties greener— and merrier—by the yard:
- Consider how far everything from produce to beverages has to travel as well as whether they are produced organically.
- Instead of buying cut flowers, choose potted flowers or plants that can decorate the house or be planted after the party.
- Forget water in plastic bottles. Fill colorful reusable glass bottles with filtered water.
- Lay out cloth napkins that guests can use for the duration of the party. You can find great options at consignment shops or places like Goodwill, in festive colors and for all occasions.
- Use real flatware, cups, and plates (mismatched is OK!) whenever possible, or choose biodegradable options that can be composted.
The most important thing to remember when trying to make Earth-friendly choices is that "being green isn't an all-or-nothing game. It's a spectrum," says Loux. "It's about taking every opportunity to make the best choices you can."