Friday, January 19, 2018

Eco-Friendly Parties

June 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Recreational boating, one of life’s great joys, is enhanced by clean waterways. As we take our enjoyment from the waters, we should also safeguard our delicate resources when planning seaside celebrations including weddings and other parties.

Services and products that allow us to reduce our impact on the earth have become more readily available and cost-effective — great news for planning a seaside celebration of any size and style. Whether it’s a clambake on the beach, a dockside barbecue, or an event for a crowd of our nearest and dearest, each one of us can encourage resource conservation and waterway stewardship simply and conveniently.

Location matters, as the saying goes. There are venues that promote their green credentials — if they don’t, it’s important to ask about the steps the site takes to be eco-conscious. If you stray from an established location to plan your entire celebration, you’ll need to focus on environmental friendliness every step of the way.

If you are celebrating on a boat and pulling up to a beach, be sure you know all pertinent federal, state, and local laws and regulations and follow all environmental rules governing the beach, waterways, and wildlife. Avoid cordoned-off and posted bird nesting areas — if dogs are invited to the beach bash, keep them away, too. Fireworks are illegal in New York State (except for sparklers in some areas) and bonfires are usually prohibited.

Provide plenty of trash cans for garbage disposal; shells and bones may not be left behind. They are considered foreign objects that could upset the fragile ecosystem and/or do harm to land and sea creatures. Beyond recycling bottles and cans at the end of the party, reduce the overall waste you produce from the outset. Avoid single-use disposable plates, cups, and silverware when possible and practical, and select non-petroleum based items — that means no Styrofoam or plastic plates and cups. Choose eco-friendly, durable options offered by companies such as Repurpose, Earth’s Alternative, and Eco-Products.

These days, you can easily find kegs of wine and beer to serve a crowd, so you don’t have to deal with glass bottles to recycle. Head directly to the tasting room of your favorite winery or craft beer producer and chances are you can get your adult beverage to go in mini-kegs or larger vessels. Check off another disposal issue from your clean-up list.

When it comes to the menu selection, be sure the fish and shellfish served come from sustainable sources. Consult the Seafood Watch list (www.seafoodwatch.org) maintained by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. It lists the fish and shellfish species that are under pressure in the region where you live and makes recommendations for suitable alternatives. (As Long Island has a vibrant seafood industry, there are many fresh-off-the-boat options, but responsible party-givers should not choose anything appearing on the watch list.)

Beyond seafood, serve guests the freshest produce. Select organic, sustainably harvested fruits and vegetables, preferably from Long Island farms. There are also restaurants and caterers across Long Island, many on the North Fork and in the Hamptons, which emphasize farm-to-fork options from farms that are smaller and closer to us. Proximity assures fresher produce, the use of less harmful pesticides running off into our creeks and streams, and fewer over-the-road trucks, trains, and planes belching greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as they haul produce long distances. Do a web search for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms to find a sustainably operated farm near you.

Planning an eco-conscious party on your own is time consuming, but the rewards go even beyond your ability to think globally while acting locally. Chances are very good that you will find my ideas also offer conservation of another resource — your hard-earned cash.

By Judy McCleery

Judy McCleery is the Owner of NorthForkWeddings, SouthForkWeddings and the East End Experience, a directory of pre-screened services for weddings and parties, including sustainable celebrations, and vacations on Long Island’s East End.  www.eastendexperience.com Also a wedding photographer, she has earned the Greener Photographer designation twice. The author previously served 12 years as the Recycling Coordinator for Southampton Town where she developed public information programs to encourage sound waste disposal practices.

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