When planning for outdoor entertaining, one thing I try to keep in mind is how to make my gatherings as sustainable as possible. Eco-friendly living doesn’t stop at the threshold of your door! Practicing pesticide-free lawn care, using energy-efficient lighting, and hosting your outdoor parties without single-use plastic are all great ways to keep you, your family, and the planet healthy.

And the good news is there are many sustainable and chemical-free options for outdoor entertaining these days! Here I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite eco-friendly products and tips for your best, most sustainable summer yet.

  1. Use energy efficient lighting. Fermob’s Balad lanterns brighten any outdoor space while using miminal energy. The LED technology allows for up to 14 hours of soft outdoor lighting on one battery charge, and the handles are made from eco-friendly aluminum or bamboo. Fermob’s Aplo lamp system allows for endless lighting configurations with the same energy-efficient LED technology.
  1. Use a BPA-free water pitcher. No need for single use plastic water bottles when you use LifeStraw’s sleek, BPA-free pitcher to keep friends and family safe and hydrated. The activated carbon ion filter removes over 30 contaminants, and your purchase also ensures safe drinking water for children in need.
  1. Maintain your lawn without the use of pesticides. A well-manicured lawn provides the perfect backdrop for any patio party, but the same chemicals used to get that jewel green grass are harmful for the children and pets who play on it. Fortunately there are many pesticide-free options these days. Talk with your landscape maintenance crew or use this excellent guide to organic lawn care from This Old House. 
  1. Skip the disposable plates. Outdoor dinnerware has come a long way since it was first introduced, and you can now find stylish, durable pieces to suit your decor. I love the sets from Fable NY— they’re made from bamboo, non-GMO cornstarch, and just a touch of melamine for durability. You can mix colors to get a perfect-for-you palette. If you do need to use disposable plates, go for a biodegradable option like these from Bambu.
  1. Shop local for the best-tasting, most sustainable food. This time of year farmers markets across the country are bursting with delicious, organic, sustainable fruits and vegetables. Buying from farmers markets supports your local economy, and ensures maximum nutrition from your produce. Fruits and vegetables that haven’t had to travel far retain more nutrients than produce from halfway around the world. Plus — they taste better! You can also find local meats, cheeses, and condiments to round out your outdoor entertaining spread.
  1. Use fabric or tree-free napkins. Using cloth napkins is a sustainable alternative to paper, and allows you to add more of your personality into your outdoor entertaining. Look for long-lasting cotton or linen options in your color palette. If you like the convenience of disposable, try these tree-free napkins from Grove Collaborative. They’re biodegradable and made from sustainable bamboo.
  1. Skip the lighter fluid and use a chimney starter. If you’re a charcoal grill fan, you may use lighter fluid to easily get your coals going. However lighter fluid imparts an off-flavor to the foods you grill, and it releases harmful volatile organic compounds into the air. A chimney starter is the perfect alternative. Simple bundle paper in the bottom and place the charcoal in the cylinder. Light the bottom, and pour the coals out into your grill when they’re ready.
  1. Cover your food with eco-friendly wraps. To keep the bugs away you may need to keep your food covered. Make it sustainable with reusable beeswax covers instead of plastic wrap. I love the fun seaside motif from the Beeswax Wraps Co.
  1. Clean up with sustainability in mind. The party’s over and your guests have gone home happy. Why not keep the eco-friendly vibes going with your favorite nontoxic cleaners? If you’re not sure what to use, you can look at my guide to making or buying the best eco-friendly cleaning products.

I hope these tips are helpful as you begin planning a summer full of laughter, warm evenings, and quality time with your friends and family.

Do you have any favorite eco-friendly outdoor entertaining tips? Share them with us in the comments below!

Happy Summer!


March 05, 2024 — Shannon Willey