Plastic Free 4th of July

In Entertaining, Food, Home by Lori Hill5 Comments


It’s Plastic Free July. Have you made your pledge to refuse single use plastic in July? 

How do you go plastic free when throwing a party? 

Whether you are throwing an elegant affair for 20 or a neighborhood block party for 200, you can still be Earth-friendly and have a plastic free 4th of July and every day of the year! Here are some key tips. 

Use Reusables, Not Disposables 

By reusables I mean stuff you aren’t going to throw away after a single use. Here are some options you can use instead of the single use stuff. 

Plates and Bowls

China, Corelleware or even camping gear


Glassware, reusable water bottles, stainless steel mugs, and travel mugs

Beverage Dispensers 

Glass, ceramic, or stainless steel pitchers, glass beverage dispensers, and Igloo-style dispensers


Use your own silverware or if you don’t have enough, buy some extra at a yard sale or thrift store. Camping utensils also work. 


Cloth napkins can range from something you buy in a store, an old t-shirt, or even bandanas bought at a thrift store

Table Coverings

Table linens are the easiest option, but if you don’t have any, you can purchase them at a yard sale or thrift store. Another great option is Kraft paper which you can buy online or at an office supply store. It enables you to write on the actual paper with a marker and indicate the name of each dish right in front of where you place the dish! If you are having a potluck, you can designate sections of the Kraft paper covered tables for appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts. 

If You Must Use Disposables, Ensure They Are Compostable 

If you must use disposable plates, cups, and cutlery, use Earth-friendly options made from sugar-cane fiber, wheat grass, corn, and recycled paper. You can find these online, at Whole Foods, organic food stores and even Party City. 

IMPORTANT! Most compostables will NOT breakdown in your backyard compost bin. They will only breakdown in a commercial compost facility. So if you municipality has curbside compost collection, then you are good to go! But don’t put this stuff in your backyard compost pile. It won’t get hot enough to break down. Just place it in the landfill. It’s not ideal, but less bad than putting plastic in the landfill. 

Make Waste Disposal Easy for Guests

I’ve found that guests will place their waste in the closest container — regardless of whether it is marked Trash/Landfill or Recycling. So make it easy for your guests and put your containers next to each other. Depending on the size of your party, have one or more waste disposal areas.

If you can, have someone stand by the waste disposal area(s) to ensure guests dispose of items properly. It minimizes confusion, educates your guests, and the person or people working this area can get to meet all the guests! 

If curbside composting is offered in your area, include a large container for compost, another container for recycling, and ideally, a very small container for trash. To encourage less waste, only provide reusable or compostable products. That way you will have minimal landfill waste. 

Even if you have someone standing by your waste disposal area, it’s helpful to post easy-to-read signs that indicate what goes in each container. For example, the compost container will take all food scraps, napkins, plates, cutlery and cups (but of course ONLY if those items are compostable!), the recycling container will take cans and bottles (or whatever may be at your party) and the trash/landfill container will take anything that can’t be composted or recycled (which hopefully is not much at all). 

Serve Earth-Friendly Food

The best food for the planet and our health (not to mention the animals) is vegan/plant-based food. Not sure what to serve? Check out these recipes: 

Blueberry and Quinoa Salad

If you are short on time for your party, this is a really simple recipe from Sweet Life Wellness. I love to prepare it because it has 4 simple ingredients — arugula, blueberries, quinoa, and red onion along with a simple dressing made of lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Steph Curry Potato Salad

This is a spicy potato salad with curry and raisins that my husband created around the NBA playoffs a few years ago.

Jackfruit BBQ with Carolina Slaw 

This comes from my friends The Dirty Hippie & the Bohemian Girl and you just might fool some folks into thinking that it is pork barbeque! You can serve it on a bun, but not all buns are vegan, so try a hard bun or perhaps a corn tortilla.

Lori Hill

Lori Hill

Lori Hill is a plant eater, trash picker upper, climate activist, wife, and mom to 2 human boys, 2 cat boys, and 1 dog boy. On a mission to do all she can to take better care of the planet, Lori created Sister Eden Media, a green lifestyle company, to inspire others to give a damn and live more gently on Earth. She shares tips on her YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and also frequently appears on television.
Lori Hill


  1. Hi Lori!
    I really like the idea of using plates and cutlery that can be composted (its especially easy when you have curbside organic pickups) Paper straws can also be used…its easy peasy!

    I like that you are on television , a lot of people can see that its not so hard or expensive to do the right thing by our Earth. And even if some of the audience don’t do anything different this 4th, awareness is raised, and actions aren’t mindless!

    Happy 4th of July!!!!!!

    1. Author

      Thanks SO MUCH for watching Joanna! And by the way, compostable plates, cups, and cutlery should only go in CURBSIDE composting. They will NOT breakdown in backyard composting.

  2. Hi Lori,
    As always, wonderful planet saving tips! Quick question, why won’t compostables break down in backyard composting? Thanks so much!!

    1. Author

      Anne Marie –
      thanks so much for watching!

      You might have luck composting plates made with wheat, sugar cane fiber, or recycled paper, but compostables that resemble plastic — like the cups made of corn or the cutlery that sort of looks plastic — will NOT break down in your backyard compost. They need the intense heat and pressure that a commercial composter can provide. So unless you have curbside compost like we have here in Takoma Park, Maryland, USA, those compostables should be placed in your trash (that is “less bad”). Compostables are still a far better choice than plastic or polystyrene though!

  3. BTW…..
    HAPPY 4th of JULY!🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

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