Planning a hen do or stag do? Read our tips for doing so as sustainably as possible.
So two of your favourite people have decided to tie the knot, and it’s fallen on you to plan them an unforgettable send off into married life (no pressure). The trouble is, hen and stag parties are typically rife with single-use plastic; waste; and a heavy carbon footprint – all the things you’ve been trying to avoid, we know. Luckily, there are lots of ways that you can reduce the environmental impact without losing any of the fun. Here’s our guide to planning a more sustainable hen or stag do:
Location & Accommodation
Whether it’s a night out, a weekend away or a longer break – choosing an eco-friendly destination or accommodation is a good place to start when trying to plan a more sustainable event.
Now you’ve chosen your destination, you just need to get everyone there. Gathering friends from all over the country is part of the fun, but all those cars travelling in the same direction is not great for air pollution.
Encourage guests to take trains and public transport as much as possible by providing directions well in advance so they can pre-book tickets early.
If public transport isn’t an option, help facilitate car pooling to fill up cars. Introduce attendees who don’t know each other but are travelling from a similar area so they can share lifts. If you have enough people travelling from one location, consider organising a minibus to reduce the number of vehicles and therefore reduce emissions.
When taking a flight to get to your destination, remember to offset your carbon footprint. Read our guide on how to offset your carbon emissions.
Decorations & Souvenirs
We know, we know – you really want to embarrass your friend, but the plastic-based paraphernalia that might be funny for five minutes will live on for a lot longer in landfill when it is discarded the next day. So leave the ‘L’ plates, balloons and foil ‘Bride to Be’ banner at home and get your craftiest friends to help you make some decorations to make it look extra special.
Try your hand at painting a banner or making some bunting out of scrap pieces of material. You can add colour to the venue with fresh flowers and plants, which guests can take home at the end of the party, and use fairy lights to add a touch of sparkle.
While it’s nice to have a momento of the party, no one needs a sash or a suggestive straw that they will never use again. If you really want to add some humorous touches, do it in edible format – such as home-baked cake or cookies. That way there’s no waste afterwards and everyone gets a sweet treat – win, win.
You could also ask every guest to bring along a photo of themselves with the bride or groom-to-be along with a note of their favourite memory or how they first met. You can use the photos to decorate the venue and at the end of the party these can be presented in a scrapbook to the guest of honour as a memento.
Food & Drink
Catering for a large group can be challenging, but while that supermarket food delivery full of single-use plastic might be convenient, it isn’t the most planet friendly.
Prior to the weekend, take a trip to your local bulk food store and stock up on snacks, nuts and any dried goods you might need such as pasta or rice.
Where possible, source local, seasonal food. Is there a local catering company that can come in and cook for you all one evening? Can you get fresh fruit and vegetables from a local farmer’s market or order a delivery from Abel & Cole, Riverford, or Oddbox? Is there a local baker for picking up fresh bread? It might take a little extra organising, but sourcing locally helps to reduce the miles your food has to travel and is also more likely to come loose and without plastic. (And often tastes better too!)
If you’re planning to dine out, book a table at a sustainable restaurant.
Party planning is thirsty work, so when it comes to drinks look for beverages that also give back to charity, are made with organic ingredients, wonky fruit and veg or food waste, and are in widely recycled non-plastic packaging. We love Karma Cola for soft drinks – see our ethical drinks guide for more ideas.
And finally, when it comes to serving your food and drink, avoid disposable plastic and paper cups, plates and cutlery and treat your guests to the real deal. It might mean more washing up, but it will mean a lot less damaging waste for the planet.
Games & Activities
Nothing says a hen party or stag do like a few silly games and organised activities, and there are plenty you can sort yourself without buying anything new.
If the weather is dry, head outdoors to a local park and play a big game of rounders or football to bring out everyone’s competitive spirit. If staying indoors, try organising an energising yoga or dance class to get everyone moving.
For something a little less active, you could spend the afternoon getting crafty and helping to make some decorations for the wedding. (See our guide to plastic free wedding planning)
Setting a strict dress code for the party might mean some of your guests need to go and buy an outfit that they otherwise wouldn’t need, so keep it simple and ask everyone to wear something they already have and feel comfortable in.
The joy of getting a group of friends and family in one place is the infinite wardrobe possibility. Ask everyone to bring a couple of outfits and accessories with them that they are happy to lend out to others and have a clothes borrowing session.
If the guest of honour wants something new, rent them an outfit that will make them feel a million dollars but costs significantly less.
Don’t be tempted to order low quality t-shirts with your friend’s face printed on that will only ever be worn again in bed or when doing DIY. Instead, stand out from the crowds by asking everyone to wear the same colour theme – but maybe avoid colours that are unlikely to be in most people’s wardrobes and play it safe with black or white.