Beautiful Grazing Tables & Platters, Bay of Plenty & Coromandel, NZ

How to Throw a Zero-Waste Party with The Honest Platter | Plastic Free July

If you're anything like me, Plastic Free July has really got you thinking about all of the ways you can reduce waste and plastic in your everyday life and routines. We know about Keep Cups and reusable shopping bags, but what about the other aspects of our life? What about throwing a zero-waste party? Well funnily enough, you've come to the right place because this is exactly what this blog is all about! I hope you use this list to help you throw a smashing shindig that is also planet friendly and good for the soul!

Ditch the balloons

I can't hide the fact that I think those balloon garlands are beautiful, but they're also terrible for the planet. If released, balloons can end up far far away from where they started. Those floating little balls of colour soon deflate and pop and can become a not so tasty snack for wildlife. Even the 'degradable' balloons won't save a sea birds life, once swallowed the balloon will do all the damage it needs before it even has a chance to start degrading. Some research has shown they take up to four years to degrade.

For an alternative to balloons, you can DIY some beautiful decorations from recycled paper or fabric! A few of my favourites are; paper pom-poms, fabric bunting or paper streamers. Another great alternative is a living flower/foliage walls, plants or jars with posies or soy candles in. Or just get me to set up a killer grazing table... just putting it out there.

BYO Plate - Literally.

There is no need to go out and purchase plastic or disposable cutlery and plates when the real thing will work just fine! If you don't have a cupboard brimming with ceramics, don't be afraid to ask your guests to bring their own. If each person brought a knife, fork, spoon, plate and cup with them. That would save a whole lot of plastic from going in the bin (and a whole lot of dishes on your end!).

If you're not keen on asking your friends to bring their own, compostable cutlery and plates can be sourced. Or if you're a regular party thrower, trips to the Op Shop will have your cupboard full of second-life treasures in no time, for a fraction of the price! (If you're anything like me and LOVE Op Shopping, you NEED this book. It's a comprehensive list of the best Op Shops in NZ! Check it out HERE. < No, not sponsored. Just love it!)

Waste Free Menu

It is extremely hard to get away from plastic wrapped food. Cucumbers come vacuum sealed, strawberries comes in a punnet that can take 450 years to decompose and cheese is triple wrapped. Being in the food industry, I understand the regulations around meat and dairy, but the fruit and veg? That just blows my mind. If outsourcing your catering, don't be afraid to ask your caterers stance on zero waste. I'll admit I'm not 100% there yet myself. It's something I'm working on and will openly talk-about. My platters are either served in a home-made wooden serving box or grazing tables are laid out on paper, with glass jars or ceramics for spreads and dips. Shopping is done with reusable bags and I choose all of the plastic-free options that I can. These are all things you can take into consideration if shopping for a self catered menu too!

If opting for a pot luck style of catering, ask your guests to bring their dish in glass or ceramics. Food waste can be a real issue too, so leftovers can then be placed back into their bowls to take home for lunch the next day. Suggest beeswax wraps to cover their dishes for the journey home too!

Also, wine comes in glass bottles. They're recyclable. You're welcome.

Save the Flowers

If this is the type of party where florals and flora are involved, you can spend hundreds on these beautiful installations that then just go to land fill. Save these precious works of art by either drying the flowers at home to keep, or deconstruct them and turn them into bouquets to gift to friends and strangers alike. Imagine walking to a bus stop and finding a bouquet with the message 'Dear stranger, here is a little love for your day' just randomly out of the blue, I know I'd be smiling the whole way home! On My Hand did an amazing dried flower piece that you have to check out!

Have the Right Bins Available

It's quite common for people to believe that compostable items will decompose straight away when in the land fill. Unfortunately this is a common misconception, the sheer magnitude of rubbish at the tip means its almost impossible for the items within the layers to get any of the oxygen flow that is needed for the process. Therefore these items can then take years, if not more, to break down.

Having a recycling, food scraps and 'general waste' bin available for guests will help them think about what waste the are creating and where it will end up. If you're really sure you're nailing the zero waste party - get rid of the general waste or replace it with just a jar!


Not every party involves gifts, but if this is one of those occasions there is no harm in reaching out to your guests and explaining your passion for zero waste. Personally I'd not mention gifts diectly because I'm a shy little mouse so I'd probably word my invite something a little like this:

Hey Nick,

I would love it if you could come and celebrate my 26th birthday with me on June 28th out in Katikati. All food and drink will be supplied, I just ask that you bring your own cutlery, cup plate and Tupperware for leftovers with you! "Why? Are you that poor Hollie?" I hear you ask. Well yes, but also we're aiming for a zero waste party. That means at the end of the party nothing will be going to landfill. We've been incredibly selective of the products and suppliers we've used to bring you a bangin' party without the footprint! I can't wait to see you there! Holl x

If you're more direct though, don't be afraid to ask for gifts wrapped in recycled paper or none at all!

What are your tips for throwing a zero-waste party? Let me know in the comments below.

I'll be sharing more zero-waste tips over the month, so keep an eye out for those too!