Have you ever thought about how holidays, parties, and celebrations affect the Earth? If you think about all the food, decorations, dinnerware, and transportation that go into throwing an awesome party, you’ll start to see how any kind of celebration can have an impact on the planet.

We are especially thinking about this as we plan all of the barbecues, pool parties, road trips, and various celebrations that come along with the heat of summer. This month happens to be Plastic Free July, a month-long initiative aimed at raising awareness around plastic pollution and encouraging individuals, businesses, and governments to go plastic free. With reports that we will have more plastic than fish in our oceans by the year 2050, we have rounded up some ways to green your beauty routineditch plastic in your daily life, and now we want you to party without plastic, too!

An important thing to keep in mind as you make your summer parties more eco-friendly is that “plastic-free” and sustainable living are goals, not expectations. Going plastic free or zero waste is about doing your best to make better switches and decisions wherever you can. It’s not about being perfect. The more forgiving you are with yourself and the more curious you are about the potential solutions, the easier it will be to give up plastics and build better lifestyle habits for our home planet.

Will you join us in being a little kinder to Mother Earth? Here are five tips to help you throw an eco-friendly summer party!

1. Reusable plates, cups, and utensils: Choosing to serve food on reusable plates and drinks in reusable cups saves countless plastic disposables from being thrown away. It can be tempting to opt for single-use plates, cups, and silverware to make cleanup easier, but the mess that you save at home ends up becoming a bigger mess for the planet. There are some really cute reusable plant-based plates and cups out there that are safe for outdoor use and have a much lighter impact if you prefer not to pull out the nice china.

2. Eco-friendly foods for grilling: Summer is great for grilling, but unfortunately, red meat can be really bad for the planet. If you must eat meat at your BBQ, look for meat that has been raised in a way that regenerates the soil instead. Pasture raised beef, free range chicken, and any meat that comes from a small, local farm will be your best bet. The good news is that there are also a ton of great vegetarian options for grilling! Scour your local farmers markets and produce stands for the best seasonal produce like corn, zucchini, eggplant, and beefsteak tomatoes. Eating food that is local and that comes from a small operation means less carbon emissions – and more flavor!

​3. Plastic-free party decorations: Party decorations turn a casual summer hang into a celebration to be remembered, but many of them are made out of plastic and are designed to only be used once. Rather than going all out with plastic streamers and balloons, try getting creative with your decorations. Colorful fabrics and napkins can jazz up your tablescape, while flowers and herbs can be hung around your space to add an earthy, summery vibe. You can even use fruits like watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries to create cool 4th of July decorations that kids will love to make and eat!

​4. Travel with a low carbon footprint: Did you know that July 4th is the second most traveled day of the year after Thanksgiving? All of that flying and driving can take a toll on our planet, so it’s best to avoid those modes of transportation if you can. Throw a party in your backyard and invite the neighbors, take public transit to the beach or the park, and if you absolutely must drive, try carpooling with a friend to help reduce your carbon footprint.

5. Keep cool without heating the planet: Air conditioner use in the US emits around 100 million tons of CO2 every year and puts strain on local energy grids. If you are having a party at your home, consider keeping it completely inside or completely outside to avoid losing precious cool air as people come in and out. Some great ways to keep cool indoors are to set up fans and keep windows open to catch a cool breeze. If your party is outdoors, try setting out the sprinkler, putting misting bottles full of ice water on the tables, and keeping guests cool with icy beverages and popsicles.

*BONUS! Host a beach cleanup: You’re already doing an amazing job of keeping your party as green as possible, so why not go that extra mile to really feel great about your summer celebration? Invite your guests to join you early for half an hour of picking up trash out in nature. Beach, park, or trail cleanups help Mother Earth stay healthy and they can be fun for the entire family!

About the author: Faye Lessler is a California-born, Brooklyn-based freelance writer and founder of lifestyle blog, Sustaining Life. She enjoys writing mission-driven content while sipping black tea in a beam of sunshine.

This post was written by Faye Lessler, a California born, New York City based advocate for holistic sustainable living. Faye is the author of sustainable lifestyle blog, Sustaining Life, and is passionate about making an ethical & eco-friendly lifestyle easier and more accessible for all. Faye is also a freelance writer and the Events + Talent Manager for the Ethical Writers & Creatives. Faye has been featured in Glamour and NY Magazine and has collaborated with sustainability leaders Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, and Klean Kanteen.