How to throw an (almost) zero-waste party

Stop the madness! It's possible to make your next family soiree trash- and junk-free (within reason, of course).

From tiny plastic toy favors that fill your junk drawers to juice boxes that get tossed, the “stuff” of family parties can create a lot of waste. And while reaching zero waste might stay a someday-goal, reducing throwaways while amping up your parties is totally doable.

“Making an effort is half the battle,” says Christa C. Dunlap, program director at California State University of Northridge’s Child and Family Studies Center. She runs the Lab School preschool on campus, where she reuses and repurposes materials as much as possible—from turning the university’s scrap into drawing paper to composting leftover snacks. “You’re teaching how to take care of the planet and think sustainably from a very young age,” she says. Here’s how to make your shindig great for both partiers and the Earth.

OK, this one might seem obvious. But today’s digital invitations do look just like the real thing, but without the pileup in someone’s recycling bin. Give kids a sense of control and creativity by letting them help design the invitation. They can choose the theme, of course, but don't forget fonts, colors, envelope liners, and even the digital stamp.

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