New Year’s Eve is a big night for family and friends to come together and celebrate — but unfortunately, it also tends to be a big night for waste.
Throughout the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to the New Year, Americans produce 25% more waste than usual. We’re talking food waste, millions of plastic toys and decorations, and tons of other non-biodegradable trash ending up in our landfills.
Wouldn’t it be nice to start the new year with more sustainable, earth-friendly traditions?
So, here’s our toast: We put together 10 tips to keep your NYE party fun and festive, but in a way that’s beautiful for the earth too!
Let’s count them down! 10…
10. Be thrifty with that sparkly New Year’s Eve outfit.
Being eco-conscious does not mean that you have to forget about fashion. If you like to get dressed up for New Year’s Eve, don’t skip the glamor and glitter — just get it secondhand.
Thrift store shopping can help you find really unique clothing and accessories, both vintage and lightly used. You can dive into the racks with a theme in mind, or just see what you come across. Maybe you’ll see an elegant dress with costume jewelry or a vintage suit that you can give new life!
9. Keep it classy — ditch the disposable cups and plates.
An easy way to reduce waste at your party is to use real glasses, plates and utensils. A bit more of a cleanup effort, but think of the waste you’re avoiding!
If you don’t already have enough for all your guests, consider shopping at the thrift store. You’re likely to find a really affordable and unique assortment of vintage glassware for saying cheers at midnight!
It’s also a great idea to use cloth napkins rather than paper ones, and skip the paper towels.
And if you have leftovers, try to use reusable containers or ask your guests to bring their own!
8. Plan ahead and limit your food waste.
Speaking of leftovers….
For many families, a big feast is an important part of New Year’s. But food waste becomes a major problem at this time of year.
Try to plan ahead so you have a manageable amount of leftovers to keep or share with your guests. You can coordinate with everyone ahead of time if others are bringing dishes. And you can look for recipes that will help you finish up all of your ingredients so you’re not left with products that will spoil without being used.
7. Help your guests recycle the right way.
You’re bound to pile up some recyclable bottles and cans on the big night.
Make sure your guests know exactly how and where to recycle everything — don’t leave it up to wishful recycling! Tossing in wrong items or contaminated things actually does more harm than good.
Leave your recycling bins out — maybe in a few places around the party — with clear labels on what goes where. You might want to make sure your guests can rinse things if needed, or otherwise leave them by the sink.
6. Keep your decorations eco-friendly.
If you’re hosting New Year’s Eve, you don’t have to skip out on the festive decorations. Just try to skip out on the plastic.
During the holidays, far too many plastic decorations are tossed in the trash after just a few weeks of use. This year, look for more sustainable options! You can use paper lanterns instead of balloons and shop for biodegradable confetti (or look up how to make your own!).
This is your last chance of the year to get really creative! There are so many ways to decorate with natural items or things around the house you already have. Create a photo booth out of cardboard boxes or by hanging a tapestry as a background! You can head back to that thrift store for some fun photo props.
5. Hand out smarter party favors.
If you’re giving out little goodie bags or party favors to your guests, try to choose gifts that are eco-friendly.
You can look for items that are made locally or from recycled material. Or just make some homemade sweets! Another thoughtful option is small succulents or plants from a local nursery.
Make sure to use reusable bags for your treats instead of plastic!
4. Skip the fireworks.
If you’re going big this New Year’s Eve, you might want to go out with a real bang by setting off fireworks on your own.
But unfortunately, as exciting as they are to watch, fireworks are bad news for the environment. They pollute the air and soil with toxic chemicals and can harm animals.
Consider celebrating midnight in a different way — try live music, a dance party, or a bonfire! If your heart is set on fireworks, look for a nearby community event that’s already planned, or tune in and stream celebrations from around the world!
3. Go DIY with noisemakers!
Another favorite tradition at midnight is making a whole lot of noise. Instead of buying plastic noisemakers that will get thrown out the next day, get creative and go DIY!
A classic way is banging on pots and pans, but you can also look online for ways to make noisemakers from paper and other items at home. This could be a fun New Year’s tradition for your family to start!
2. Buy local and organic.
Shopping locally is always a good way to reduce your carbon footprint. The less far your food travels to reach you, the less of an environmental impact it has.
When you’re stocking up on food for New Year’s, find a nearby farmers’ market so you can buy fresh, organic ingredients right from growers in your community. Making food from scratch — rather than buying packaged items — is much more sustainable.
For the bubbly, finding organic champagne isn’t always easy, but a nice alternative is organic sparkling wine!
1. Set New Year’s resolutions that are good for the earth.
If you need some inspiration for a New Year’s resolution, how about something that is good for your mental health but also good for your community and the environment?
Spending time helping others and volunteering is proven to make you happier and less stressed — it’s a way of practicing self-care. You can make a promise to yourself that you’ll set aside time this new year to volunteer for a cause that matters to you!
Keep America Beautiful has over 700 affiliate groups across the country where volunteers work together on environmental projects in their community. Whether you’re planting trees, cleaning up litter, or beautifying a neighborhood, you’re making an impact for both people and the planet.