SUSTAINABLE SWAPS | Green Party Issues

Santa Cruz Waves’ guide for keeping your summer bashes eco-friendly

By J.D. Ramey


Not to be a buzzkill, but on top of all the damage that plastic causes to our oceans, new research suggests that degrading plastic also emits gases that may contribute to climate change. With our summers getting steadily hotter, there’s no question that it’s time to start changing with the climate and making some more eco-friendly choices. But being more environmentally conscious doesn’t mean the party has to stop. Here are some tips from certified green event planner Paige McQuillan on how to keep your summer parties plastic-free. 


1) Encourage people to bring their own cups. Instead of buying single-use plastic water bottles, fill a pitcher or water dispenser with fruit-infused water for your guests to enjoy. Stick to cans or glass bottles instead of plastic. 

2) No balloons. Often made from foil, rubber or plastic, balloons frequently find their way to the ocean and can be extremely harmful to animals. Foil balloons and their nylon strings can take years to decompose, so avoid these at all costs. A few alternatives: flags, banners, streamers and paper pom-poms. 

3) Buy organic, locally grown flowers. 60 percent of the flowers in the U.S. are imported. Since they are not edible, they are unregulated, so they are often doused in pesticides to prevent invasive species from being carried from one country to the next. Farmers’ markets and local floral shops are a great place to find organic alternatives—just be sure to ask where they get their flowers. 

4) Avoid pre-made party platters in plastic containers. The problem with these platters is that they rarely consist of high-quality, organic ingredients, and more often than not, their containers end up in the trash instead of being recycled. 

5) Beware of greenwashing. The terms “green,” “eco,” “eco-friendly,” “natural and sustainable” and “100% compostable” are not regulated, so any company can make this claim about its products. Corn-based utensils and straws are often labeled “100% compostable,” but proper composting of these items requires a special facility that is unavailable in Santa Cruz. Instead, use your own metal utensils, or buy bamboo utensils, paper straws (if needed) and paper plates. Rentals are always an option, as well.  

For more information on green event planning, contact Paige McQuillan at or find her on Instagram 


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