So Graduation season is upon us! That means tons of long Facebook post about "growth" filled with references to jokes you know nothing about. Lots of photos posted everywhere and tons of invitations sent out. Being a college senior that will graduate in December, I am getting a front-row view of my academic peers and all of the traditions. I was talking with some of my spring graduating friends and I jokingly said: "I should write an article with some 'Green Graduating Tips' because I write so much about being eco-friendly." The response was so positive that, here I am, offering suggestions. You may not do them all, but I recently read an interesting quote that I stand by "It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little"-Sydney Smith.
1. Send out Electronic Invitations
We all know that electronic E-vites save us so much hassle, but sometimes we insist on doing handwritten or signing up for a service from our university that will do it for us. This just wastes paper as your graduation announcement sits on someone's coffee table under the magazines they got in the mail. Why not send them something they can automatically add to their calendar and set reminders for? Evites are simple and easy as well as tree saving!
So we all think or say "we won't be basic" by doing the traditional confetti photos or throwing it after the ceremony, but just give in.--It's cool, it's tradition and deep down you know you want to throw it. Take the time to buy eco-friendly confetti. Confetti is a superfluous purchase anyways so we can take it the extra step and try a website like Ecofetti! Ecofetti is a biodegradable, water-soluble, environmentally friendly confetti that requires no cleanup. Sounds easy to me!
3. Use Memories and Mementos as Decoration
This one is kinda simple, but when you think about it, one of the first things we do is head to a party city for decorations. It would be easier, cost-effective, and low waste. It is likely that the purchased decorations would be a one-time buy. You can avoid being wasteful by decorating with trophies and medallions, certificate and general photos that you have depicting your life, family, and friends. It makes the party more centered around the graduate anyways!
4. Skip the Balloons
Okay, I know this one is hard! Balloons are great and awesome. I love a good balloon just as much as the next person. But balloons do not love us back and they are terrible for sea life especially. Even if you live nowhere near the ocean, they'll end up in a major trash pile being waste. A decorative alternative is paper pom poms or lanterns.
5. Plan a low-meat Menu
I know you may cringe at the thought of the words "low meat" coming from a vegetarian but really, think about it. Does your graduation cookout need hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken, AND steak? All that meat add up. The production of beef creates as much greenhouse gases as your car and you waste tons of water too ao maybe think about picking two main types of meat and filling the rest of the menu with delicious veggie sides and sweet treats.
6. Make a creative Drink Station
Sometimes graduation parties or just normal parties can be water bottle station! If you're interested in the shortcomings of water bottles the documentary "Tapped" will change your outlook severely. By making a creative drink station you can save on cost and express yourself creatively. You can try a triple berry punch or a strawberry lemonade, but either way, serving it out of a centralized container/pitcher makes you a winner.
7. Promote On-site Sorting
This is a simple change. Wherever you host your celebration just make sure there are multiple ways to dispose of waste highlighted. Have a place for recycling, a place for food waste and a separated trash area. If you want to sort out, even more, the app Irecycle has listed local places for disposal of different materials.
8. Go Plastics-Free!
This may seem like a huge task depending on the number of guests you have, but replacing plastics with durables (permanent plates and silverware) isn't too tough when you utilize thrift stores. If you'd like an option less mismatch you can get sustainable leafware cutlery and plates. You can also check out biodegradable one-use items here.
9. Pick an Eco-friendly Restaurant
I didn't forget those of you that just go out to eat after graduation! That is still an awesome celebration with a lot less work. The main consideration here is picking a place that has sustaibale practices or if you can afford it, a farm-to-table menu. I recently went to a taco place that had paper straws and it was such a cool feature! I found an article that has a rundown of sustainable restaurants and what they serve for each and every state!
10. Encourage Carpooling/Carsharing
This one is self-explanatory. If your guests are coming from different places you can encourage them to travel into your celebration together!
bonus: Request charitable donations instead of gifts!
I know you want your gifts but maybe only request this from a certain group of people you invite. As an example, you could ask all your friends to donate to a charitable place that you identify and your family can get you gifts that are for your use!
Feel free to try to incorporate any of these into your planning for your upcoming celebrations and congratulations Graduates!!