Our first student party in our own flat went something like this: After the morning procrastination followed by a power nap, there was a short detour to the supermarket around the corner under the motto "Better late than never".
The contents of the shopping cart were then three crates of beer covered by a not too small mountain of packaging in the form of chips and pretzel sticks and of course lots of plastic cups, after all you can never have enough of them.
For a fresh start to the hangover Saturday and as motivation for clearing up the chaos, three bottles of OJ next to it and off we went home.
We didn't have money for decoration or elaborate finger food back then - at least that's a reason for the environment to be happy.
When we look back on this time, a shiver runs down our spines and that's why we want to share our best tips with you in this article to make your party (almost) waste-free - of course 100% low budget-approved!
Sustainable right from the start: The right preparation
Who doesn't know them, the number one party rule? If you've drawn the lot and have to use your pad for the booze orgy (or you volunteer for some reason we don't understand), then it's best to skip to rule #2: A party is only as good as the atmosphere of the guests.
A far too often underestimated point that you should definitely pay attention to at your celebration in zero waste style. After all, minimalism when partying is a way of avoiding waste, but you don't have to do without everything.
Let's assume we've left the frozen pizza years and the mate bib nights behind us and finally have the resources to get our apartment ready to some extent. Then it's time for the decoration!
Depending on the occasion of the party, you can now find out with roommates or motivated guests how sustainable the art lessons in elementary school really were. Fair trade flowers are beyond your budget? Let's go into the forest in fourth grader style to collect stones, moss and leaves!
We know that there are always jam or bockwurst jars lying around somewhere (does anyone have time to go to the container?), so wash them out, remove the labels and start decorating.
The potted plants that are already there can also be placed more prominently on windowsills and tables to add flair. In this way you also communicate the party motto with your guests. And if there is enough for the flowers, the glasses can also be practically converted into a vase.
Just like balloons, garlands and confetti can be found in more sustainable versions in shops or you can quickly make them yourself. The colorful snippets can be made, for example, from old wrapping paper, newspaper remnants or - very advanced and for stylish moments - from dried flowers. And when was the last time you emptied your hole punch?
Important: Do not scatter wrapping paper on the footpath or in the garden, otherwise you will spread plastic unnecessarily!
Sustainable garlands? Also go really well, for example from straws! With our #IAMPLASTICFREE straws your decoration will not only be sustainable, but also really elegant.
When the first three apple spritzers have been drunk and the last guests have found their way upstairs, there comes a moment when the atmosphere becomes a bit more relaxed and the party crowd spreads throughout the apartment. This is the time at the latest when bright ceiling lights destroy even the best party mood in no time at all. LED bulbs are suitable here. You probably already have them in your floor lamps anyway, but fairy lights are also worth an investment, because you not only protect the environment, but also avoid unpleasant surprises on your next electricity bill.
Low Budget Tip : Ask your folks if anyone has LED string lights and will provide them for you to use at the party. It goes without saying that seeing each other again is a pleasure, so always place borrowed decorations out of the reach of potential accident sites.
Of course you can also ask your friends about other decorations. If you want to go all out and the party can be three classes higher, the remaining mason jars (yes, our glass mountains had tower potential...) with candles or tea lights can also create the special atmosphere. With block candles you are even more sustainable.
As already mentioned, this decoration is not suitable for every type of party. It can crackle between your guests, but it doesn't have to be a fire in the apartment.
A deco classic in DIY style becomes a special eye-catcher at every party: the signature poster aka the scale of the apple spritzer level. Place old bed sheets or the backs of dead posters in a clearly visible place for all guests with the appropriate pens and let your creativity run free throughout the evening - a high fun factor is guaranteed and a souvenir is included!
Zero waste at the buffet: party snacks as a guest challenge
Sooner or later, every party guest falls into snack mode and can no longer hold back on chips and the like. In order to say goodbye to the mountains of rubbish from our student days, the companion to the apple spritzer also has a different approach: do it yourself is the motto here!
Of course, it doesn't have to be the most decadent finger food, the search for simple creations usually doesn't take long. Would you like some ideas? With kitchen helpers, the potatoes are sliced in a matter of seconds and can be easily processed into chips - not only without waste, but also healthier.
Or have you ever roasted chickpeas in the oven? Letting it swell yourself instead of reaching for the pack or can also saves a lot of waste here. And with proteins and power spritzers, even the last gym regular has no excuse not to get together. Best of all, you can let your creativity run wild with the spice mix.
The tastiest buffet is the varied one! So do something good for the environment and get rid of your leftovers at the same time. Half a pepper has been in the vegetable drawer for a week and nobody remembers who the open pack of cheese actually belongs to? Perfect for zero waste is... waste!
Look in every corner to see what's left, a short smell and taste test and off you go! Simply serve your guests a house-style salad, mini-sandwiches with a surprise topping, or give your health-conscious host a cream cheese dip with fruit and vegetables.
Your party is also the right time for leftover pizza, everything on the homemade dough – which, by the way, usually doesn’t have to go that long. Your guests are guaranteed to be happy, you'll get rid of your leftovers and don't buy anything that isn't already there.
And believe us: someone always eats it, no matter what it looks like or tastes like. Alternatively, you can also motivate your friends to this waste idea. Most of the time (fortunately!) your own shared apartment is by no means the worst when it comes to organizing supplies.
So your guests can get rid of their food and add another highlight to the buffet. If there are really no leftovers anywhere, food sharing concepts are also a conceivable alternative for both you and your guests.
And if you go to the supermarket again before the party for the healthy snacks, please don't forget the good old freshness net!
Your party is getting more decadent and finger food is not an option? Then the motto is definitely regional and seasonal. Stroll around the weekly market and pay a visit to the unpackaged shop you trust.
Rely on local fruit and vegetables from your own garden or nearby and give your guests a special treat with fresh soups and casseroles. With the right seasoning and a little oil in the oven, vegetables can also easily become a healthier alternative to chips.
Stews (win, win for the gainers!) such as chili sin (or con) carne or a hearty pea soup are also particularly suitable as a party basis. Unfortunately, napkins also produce a lot of waste.
We know that after two or three apple spritzers, one or the other guest no longer takes the careful use of kitchen roll so seriously, so it might make sense to have tea towels ready for small accidents and also for briefly drying cups or hands in between. For everything else you can refer to the bathroom.
Things get stylish on special occasions with an alternative: Cloth serviettes are available in different designs and not only look elegant when folded, but also serve well with several courses at the buffet.
The same applies to dishes: For sustainability, it is best to leave them out, except for the plates and platters of the snacks themselves. If finger food is not that easy to eat with your hands, then use sustainable alternatives made of (pure!) bamboo, sugar cane or wood back.
Depending on the occasion, edible crockery can also be used. It is also worth looking for other options than plastic for cutlery. However, we think that at least your own cutlery can still be used by cheerful party guests without any worries, after all you don't have to be afraid of breaking a spoon.
If you are planning a larger event in a quieter setting, you can of course use your own crockery. If the supply is not sufficient, the guests can also bring their own crockery and cutlery.
Drinks without waste: stylish cup alternatives with drinking straws
Most important at every party: good drinks. And where they are, disposable cups and plastic straws are usually not far away. But there is a more sustainable way here too!
For example, ice cubes can be frozen in stainless steel molds. If you want to go one step further, you can grab ice cubes made of stainless steel or frozen fruit - they save on unnecessary decorations and at the same time provide extra refreshment.
Cooling sleeves for wine can be easily pre-cooled in the freezer and later avoid resources in the form of water or ice cubes.
Again, the tip: Ask your guests, someone can certainly help out.
Since we know from our own experience what sacrifices an evening can demand in the glass cabinet, we always like to reach for the preserving jars from our corner of the hall.
True to the motto "shards bring luck", you can take out the broom as a preventive measure, but you can save your own glasses for it.
If disposable cups are to be used at larger events or for other reasons, there are alternatives here too, such as those made from biogenic waste. If you want something really classy, you can use stainless steel cups.
You can find more inspiration for alternatives to disposable products here .
Plastic bottles for OJ and lemonade? You can save a lot of garbage here too! Lemonades are easy (and healthier!) to conjure up on the basis of water, sugar, herbs and fresh fruit and are a real drink favorite at every party, even without alcohol.
The same principle also works with cocktails, so try it out and enjoy! And even the self-pressed orange juice the morning after does not diminish its effect - on the contrary.
Speaking of liquids: depending on the occasion, it is best to let the guests drink water from the tap or from a stylish glass carafe, which also saves on the deposit aisle. For all foodies: Infused water has been a real trend drink for a number of years, so simply pimp your water with cucumber, mint & co for a low-carb soda that also looks good.
If you don't have time for DIY with the softs, you can use glass bottles for sodas, juices and water. By the way, beer in returnable bottles, preferably from the region, fits perfectly with the sustainable idea of your party.
Be honest: Sometimes you just want a straw, even if the plastic heart bleeds just thinking about it. Don't worry, there are also some alternatives, which we have already looked at more closely for you here .
We are sure that when you choose, you will find a model that suits your party. Our favorite are these #IAMPLASTICFREE drinking straws , with which you can easily bring all the positive properties of classic plastic straws into your drinks - without plastic.
Avoid waste after the party: dispose of leftovers easily
When the party is over and food and drinks are left over, it's time to share: sharing is caring! Pack solid snacks for your guests in boxes they have brought with them or alternatively give them yours to borrow. If that is too risky for you, you can also use oilcloth.
Most of the time, the way home or the pre-walk of shame to the next best place to sleep is used anyway for the early morning kebab, so why not let the guests fall into bed with a clear conscience?
Alternatively, leftovers can of course also be frozen. We'll give you tips on how to do it without plastic here . Eating leftovers on the days after the party or donating to food sharing points can also help you get rid of your snack creations in the long term. We are sure that hardly any neighbor would turn down an invitation to the former.
Also very important after the party: waste separation! Because even if your mountains of waste are hopefully kept within limits, unfortunately it is usually not possible to do without it.
The rule here is that only what is well separated can be recycled in the best case and saves time and resources. We have you covered why waste separation is also important and how to separate it correctly explained here .
If you only offered a large sack at the party to avoid piles of rubbish in the apartment, it is definitely worth checking again briefly and then separating them to prevent misthrows.
Alternatively, you can try in advance to ensure that waste is sorted in a reasonably sustainable manner during the party by using several containers with appropriate signs.
If the plants didn't survive the evening completely unscathed, simply dispose of them in the organic waste, then the loss can at least be coped with from an ecological point of view.
The decoration was too much or does it deserve a comeback at the next party? You can confetti and garlands perfectly and sustainably in our #IAMPLASTICFREE bags store them, they stay safe in one place until the next event.
Celebrating sustainably is easier than you think
Celebrating in zero waste style always has to be complex, expensive and difficult to implement? nope! The amount of waste saved is definitely worth a few thoughts when sending the Messenger invitations.
In addition, you not only celebrate in a sustainable way with respect for the environment, but also quickly turn your party into a nightmare for all FOMO junkies with extraordinary food and self-made drinks.
In short : nobody should miss out on a really good sustainable party. So, it's best to do the fridge check today and plan for the next weekend. Which guest comes up with the most creative taste explosion in (zero)waste shared flat style?