How to throw a plastic-free party

One of the biggest music festivals in the world went plastic-free this year. Find out how you too can party without plastic


Plastic-free July has become so much more than a month-long challenge.

Whether you’re a beginner to plastic-free or have been making super simple plastic-free swaps for a while, reducing plastic waste is a lifestyle change.

Making changes to your everyday plastic habits is a great place to start, but what about other events that generate huge amounts of waste?

Throwing a party and plastic waste 


Celebrating milestones is all about having a good time. With that in mind, convenience tends to play a part in the generation of excess plastic waste.

Balloons, disposable cups, plates, cutlery, confetti, straws and decorations, parties produce a lot of waste that hangs around for so much longer than your celebration.

Avoid single-use plastic party waste and turn any celebration into a stylish and sustainable event with a little forward planning, collecting and creativity.

One of the biggest music festivals in the world went plastic-free this year if they can do it we all can.

How to throw a plastic-free party

There's so much to consider when throwing a party! From decorations to food, drink and favours, this is how you can avoid plastic party waste.

Plastic-free decorations

Consider your location


Working with nature is the best way to set the mood for your plastic-free party. Choose a location that’s naturally beautiful so you don’t need to decorate at all.

Choose bunting over balloons

Bunting is not only beautiful, unlike balloons and plastic banners, it is reusable too. Upcycle old newspapers and magazines to create paper chain decorations that can be reused or recycled.

Add flowers to table settings

Flowers and plants add to any special occasion. Choose flowers from a local farmers market (with zero plastic packaging) or pick local wildflowers or native plants and foliage. Plants last longer and can be offered as party favours. Repurpose old jars or even empty food cans as rustic vases, or if you’re feeling really creative, green garlands look beautiful draped around your party setting.

Use low-energy lighting to set the mood

Lighting is another way to set the mood for any special event that doesn’t need to involve wasteful plastic. Solar lighting and led-string lights are low energy options that you can use again and again. If you’re using candles, choose beeswax for a cleaner burn and upcycle old jars or wine bottles for a plastic and waste-reducing candle holder.

Choose eco options over plastic confetti

 Image: o, world

Confetti is a long-standing wedding tradition that doesn’t need to involve plastic (or even paper). Flower petals and bubbles offer a plastic-free alternative, and using a shape cutter on leaves creates the ultimate green confetti option.

Plastic-free dining

Plastic-free serving suggestion

Sharing boards and platters are perfect for a more casual affair that doesn’t involve a sit-down meal. Simply supply reusable napkins and real side plates and let everyone dig in!

Use glassware or reusable party cups

Where possible stock your party with drinks that come in recyclable glass bottles. Avoid bottled water, fill up water jugs instead and provide glassware or reusable cups. If you’re hosting a big party hire glassware, or if this is a little pricy second-hand shops are choc-full of glassware that you can donate back to them. Offer reusable straws if you have them, but encourage guests to go straw-free.

Choose real plates


Plastic and paper plates are a popular party choice, however, even if you use paper plates with the intention of recycling food residue means it’s unlikely they will actually get recycled. Using actual dinnerware adds to the occasion and means no waste. Overtime households tend to accumulate plates and bowls that don’t belong to a set. Instead of throwing out odd dinnerware keep them for parties.

Avoid plastic cutlery


Disposable plastic knives, forks and spoons are among some of the more dangerous disposable plastic items, causing problems for local wildlife or just ending up in a landfill. For big parties cutlery is another item you can hire or source from local second-hand shops – alternatively, there are biodegradable options too.

Plastic-free party favours

Repurpose newspaper or jam jars for kids

All kids want a party bag to go home with at the end of a party – but the plastic nature of party bags places them on the non-eco party list. Upcycle old jars for older kids and repurpose newspaper or fabric is an eco-alternative to plastic for younger kids. 

Gift useful plastic-free items for adults

Giving away flower arrangements or gifting plants used to decorate your party is a great way to start your party clean-up early and reduce waste. If you’re looking for party favours and you want to embrace the eco-theme, gifting seeds or baby trees is a thoughtful and environmentally beneficial gift. Avoid plastic containers or cling wrap for cake and choose cake boxes that are certified biodegradable or compostable. 

Zero plastic waste clean up


Put a system in place

It would be hard to throw a party that’s entirely waste and plastic-free, but setting up an organised waste system will encourage recycling. Simply set up a few boxes around the party that are clearly labelled for recycling, and line a few boxes with newspaper to hold any food waste. This avoids the need to use plastic bags and makes organising the clean-up more streamline.

Keep the clean-up waste and chemical-free

Keep the post-party clean-up quick and chemical-free with ENJO. The zero-waste cleaning products will have all your eco-party clean-up covered for up to three years – just add water to wet, wipe and dry!


Editor's note: this post was updated 19 July 2019.

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