Green Your Summertime Soiree

By John Voket

Now is the time many people are planning summertime get togethers, so I wanted to pass on a few ideas about hosting an environmentally friendly backyard barbecue, graduation ceremony, wedding, or when enjoying the outdoors with family and friends.

While balloons are a popular celebrating tribute, do not release helium balloons into the air.  In Connecticut, for example, it is illegal for any person or any group to intentionally release 10 or more helium balloons per day.

A summer breeze can transport balloons released in inland areas all the way to Long Island Sound or any adjacent water body. Once in the water, deflated balloons – just like plastic bags and other floating plastic garbage – look like food.

When marine animals eat the floating plastic, their digestive systems become blocked. The “Balloons Blow… Don’t Let Them Go” website ( is a resource for environmentally friendly alternatives, and ways to spread the word about balloons.

Other green summer event tips include:

  • Using reusable plates, cups and cutlery if possible. If you use disposable plates or napkins, look for those made from recycled content, and avoid polystyrene foam products.
  • “Compostable” utensils and plates are only “greener” if you have made arrangements for composting them. For light snacks, try to serve “finger food” or food that can be served with minimal plates and utensils.
  • Use cloth or reusable tablecloths. These can be rented along with tables and other event supplies so that you don’t have to buy a lot of items unnecessarily.
  • Serve drinks from pitchers or bottles rather than individual drink bottles.
  • Serve locally grown foods whenever possible. It is possible to find many different fruits and vegetables, cheeses, breads, dips, beers and wines. Check with your state or county Dept. of Agriculture for Local Grown programs.
  • Provide separate containers for trash and recycling and have them clearly marked. Make sure trash containers are paired with recycling containers. For some regionalized information on event recycling, go to
  • For favors or centerpieces, choose edible or plantable items, which are less likely to end up in the trash. Buy local flowers or plants from farmers markets or farm stands, or, for real freshness, find a “pick your own” location.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

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