going eco-friendly for outdoor party season!


Living in Chicago, I count myself lucky to have a decent-sized patio to have summer
soirees. My apartment is pretty small and can only hold a few people for get-togethers,
so I love it when spring comes and I can start party planning! This year I’m upping my
green efforts and buying dishes for outdoor use so I can make these parties a little more
eco-friendly. “No more plastic plates” is going to be my motto. Since the dishes will only
be used less than a dozen times over the summer, I’m committed to purchasing second-
hand to save on costs, and replacement fees when they break. Outdoor parties always
seem to have dishware casualties at my house!

I struck out finding much decent at my local second-hand store, so I’ve come up with a
list of other places to scour over the next few months:
– restaurant and bar closings
– estate sales
– hotel liquidation sales
– restaurant remodeling

I will be checking the local weekly papers for sales, as well as watching out for places
closing or changing formats in my neighborhood. Once I managed to purchase some
really great chairs from a closed bar just by putting a note on their door, so keep your
eyes peeled for closing or reinventing establishments! Where would you shop? –
Rebecca F.

Image credit: Rebecca Firlik

From our partners

We have a couple restaurant supply shops in our neighborhood and they have ultra cheap, diner-style dishes for sale.


The way I’ve gone “eco-friendly” is buying dishes for multiple purposes. For example, with a young child in the house and more children coming over from time to time, I like having melamine dishes. No, not eco-friendly in and of itself. But I use them year-round for kid-friendly gatherings AND they are perfect for outdoor festivities. Even picnicking!

And here’s a tip: You know those colorful children’s bowls and plates at IKEA? They are the perfect size for fruity sherbet desserts or small slices of pie. :)

I put the word out last spring to family and friends that if they replaced their goods that I was in the market for some unbreakable summer ware. One of my best friends had just replaced all their patio furniture and along with it all the dishes and linens that went with it. Her tropical goodies go perfectly with our pool and the colors match our cushions. Lucky me and all for FREE! She figured better me than Goodwill, she’s also glad someone else is enjoying the set she always loved. I hope we end up with as many happy memories while using them as she has.

shelterrific » Blog Archive » a few things we learned last week

[…] 3) Crowd sourcing is key when stocking up on reusable dishware for outdoor parties. Friends, restaurant supply stores and establishments that are going out of business are proven resources for scoring dishes for free. […]

shelterrific » Blog Archive » eco-friendly party idea II – frost your party glasses!

[…] and napkins. You name it, it probably got thrown away after one use. Ugh. I decided to cut down (some more!) on disposable glasses, but after losing two somewhat-expensive wine glasses at a lively party, I […]