The end of a year-long pandemic seems to be in sight. The CDC now has guidelines for indoor get-togethers. Summer is on the horizon. 

Things are starting to look up, and social gatherings are only going to increase from here. So, here are some tips to make your next party, group dinner, or poolside barbeque an easy, money-saving (and planet-friendly) success.

  1. BYOP
white round plate on white table

Bring your own plate (and utensils). Stop wasting all that money on plastic stuff from the party store and encourage guests to bring their own things to eat with. This will result in fewer trips to the dumpster, less trash in the landfill, and more space for partying (there won’t be a million paper plates everywhere). I threw some great parties in college (if I do say so myself), but I was getting tired of having to take out multiple trash bags each time. If people bring their own “eatware,” they save you time and money, and help keep unnecessary plastic out of landfills. When I first introduced this idea, more of my friends participated than I thought would. Now, BYOP is a staple of my party invitations. 

  1. Use Reusable Solo Cups
red plastic bucket on gray sand

Okay yes, this kind of falls into the above. But have you seen these hard plastic solo cups? I’m personally so obsessed that I think they deserve their own tip. Sure, people can bring their own mugs, glasses or other vessels, but there is just something that feels so right about solo cups (especially when you’re a student or at an outdoor gathering). Whether you buy a set, use them for drinking or use them for games, these cups are guaranteed to save money and a lot of room in the garbage can. (I graduated in May 2020, so the last party of my college career occurred just a week before everything changed — I still haven’t fully accepted that I have graduated, so my reusable solo cup is the only thing I’ve drunk out of for over a year.)

  1. Shop with Tote Bags
white tote bag on white wall

Nowadays, this is a pretty common idea, but plastic bags can add up (both in the garbage and if you have to pay per bag). When shopping for party essentials, food and beverages, bringing your own bags can make a big difference in terms of sustainability. Stores like Target even deduct money from your bill if you bring your own bags. Shop with a friend to make things more fun and easier to carry home (or wherever). And if the store has a rule about cashiers touching your own things, use one of the self-checkout stations. Taking your time scanning and packing groceries at your own pace can greatly reduce anxiety when no one is waiting in line for you to finish. Overall, bringing multiple bags to stores makes the excursion less wasteful all around.

  1. Carpool with Friends

Even if no designated drivers need to be involved for a specific party, carpooling makes the rides to and from any social gathering that much more fun and economical. Carpooling is also planet-friendly — it can help keep a significant number of cars off the road, reducing carbon emissions and keeping the air cleaner. Whether a partygoer picks up peeps on the way, or friends add stops to an Uber or Lyft route, this tip can save money on gas as well as prevent unnecessary pollution.

  1. Bring Tupperware for Leftovers
food container on table

If your get-together is focused on food, there will probably be more than you can handle, and people will also want to enjoy it the next day. Instead of wrapping things with aluminum foil and paper plates for guests to take home, have them bring their own containers. Whether they’re portioned out or not, they rep a favorite brand and include all the gadgets, or they are just plain plastic takeout boxes from restaurants, this will save you a few bucks and do wonders for the planet. 

No matter how you choose to celebrate this summer, at least one of these tips is bound to be applicable. Trying one (or all) out and sharing your favorites with friends will help keep a little more money in your bank account, and a little more waste out of our landfills.