Jubilee Union Flag bunting

Go green for the Queen! The nation’s gearing up for the Platinum Jubilee festivities on the special Bank Holiday weekend. Set to be a right royal knees-up, street parties will take place the length and breadth of the UK. But have you considered the environment when organising your event? After all, Her Majesty herself broke with tradition to say how “irritated” she is by people talking about climate action while not taking it – so it makes sense to consider the planet when celebrating 70 years of her reign.

The Queen’s undertaken many eco-friendly measures at home. Buckingham Palace  is a ‘smart’ palace, where computer systems maximise efficiency by controlling the heating, cooling and hot water. She also employs a dedicated team of green champions, who are helping shape an ongoing 10-year refurbishment that aims to improve the palace’s energy efficiency by 40 per cent. It includes the addition of solar panels and an anaerobic digestion unit to make green gas from plant-based waste.

Of course, it’s highly unlikely your street party’s going to have its own sources of renewable energy, but there are so many ways you can make it more sustainable, while having just as much fun. Here are my tips:

Avoid disposables

When catering for lots of people outdoors, it’s all too easy to buy a load of disposable plates and cups – as well as plastic cutlery. If possible, try and avoid this. Ask everyone to bring enough bowls, plates, beakers and cutlery for their own household. As well as saving money, it’ll cut down on the sacks of rubbish at the end.

Get crafty with the decorations

As soon as you see a balloons, you think of parties and fun. Sadly, the truth is they’re not kind to the planet. Many manufacturers market balloons made from rubber or latex – derived from the sap of tropical trees – as ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘natural’. However, they still don’t biodegrade easily. Australian scientists found they are incredibly slow to break down and pollute the natural world by posing a serious health risk to birds and other wildlife.

When it comes to bunting the readymade plastic variety is best avoided. If there are kids coming to your do, get them together to craft their own bunting using a washing line, scrap paper and felt tip pens or paints. It’ll mean so much more than anything shop bought.

Party sandwiches

Make your own food

Try and avoid pre-prepared salads and readymade dishes packaged in plastic. For catering, organise a ‘potluck’ – where each household brings one dish for a buffet.

Avoid food waste

In the UK, we bin 6.5 million tonnes of food each year – of which 4.5 million tonnes is still edible. What a waste of money! It’s also a huge amount of unnecessary carbon emissions. Have lots of jam jars and containers on hand, so people can take any leftovers home.

Label your bins

It’s a good idea to organise some big bins for your event and have them clearly marked, showing which are for glass, paper or other rubbish. That way, recycling should be separated the right way for your local council.

Appoint a clean-up committee

Arrange for a group of you to take charge of the clean-up – ensuring all rubbish is disposed of correctly and the street’s left clean and tidy.

Having fun means thinking of the planet

In times gone by, street parties meant bags and bags of rubbish ending up in landfill. Such waste can take decades, or even centuries, to break down. While the Queen’s reign of 70 years seems like a long time, a plastic cup takes 450 years to disintegrate. And then it leaves dangerous microplastics behind, poisoning the soil and the watercourse. We can do better than this.
This time our celebrations can leave a greener, cleaner legacy.

As awareness of the climate crisis grows, people are embracing a more sustainable approach. In the current financial climate, it can help you save money too. A win for your pocket, the planet and Her Majesty.

 

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