By Geoff Johnson

Hooray for the start of school, Party Season. Hooray for booze, music, dancing and intimate interpersonal encounters. Hooray for feeling good all the time.

While most of us spend our nights flocking from house to house and apartment to apartment caring for little more than our own buzz, there are, of course, more gracious folk who open their front doors, refrigerators and bathrooms to all or most who would enter. If you are one of the latter – with the requisite amounts of money, time, friends and tolerance for morning-after cleanup – or if you plan to be at some point, then you play a significant role in controlling the enormous levels of consumption and waste in and around Georgetown on weekend nights. My hope is to show a few ways to create a more eco-friendly, or “green” party, and encourage you to keep them in mind the next time you play host or hostess.

A quick note: Long hair and hemp are optional at such gatherings, and neither must all attendees share leftist political leanings (though be advised that young Republicans can’t hold their liquor and are therefore prone to party fouls). In fact, as you’ll see, environmental sensitivity is only one major benefit of green parties, as following the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra saves not just trees and whales but money, too.

Even at bare-bones college parties there are simple ways to cut down on consumption and waste. To begin with, kegs are a better option than cans or bottles, provided plastic cups are dealt with as they should be (more on that to follow). Kegs can be reused many times over and don’t include the cardboard and other packaging of single-serving alternatives. If your budget allows it, buying a local brand means that your beer hasn’t been transported hundreds of miles in an 18-wheeler. Bringing home kegs later in the day means they do not require as many plastic bags of ice, and icing from the bottom is the most efficient method of keeping anything cool.

As for cups, the variety normally used at parties is both recyclable and dishwasher safe. As tempting as it is when cleaning up to simply toss everything into a giant trash bag, this is not, needless to say, environmentally responsible or cost-effective. Heavy-duty plastic cups won’t crack or melt in a dishwasher and will come out just as clean as other cups or glasses.

If you’re serving food, animal-based foods, meat or otherwise, take the greatest toll on the environment, causing increased land use, topsoil erosion, chemical pollution, water consumption and more. In other words, I recommend salsa instead of cheese dip.

Here are a few more recommendations: With food, drink and everything else, buy in bulk to reduce waste and cost (kegs and giant bottles of liquor also add a much-desired hardcore edge to a party’s image). Don’t use air conditioning if you don’t have to, especially considering that opening the windows will create better ventilation in a packed party. Also keep in mind that halogen lamps require lots of energy and their brightness is usually unflattering, so stay away from them if you can. Know what can be thrown in the recycling bin the next day. If you don’t, just check recycling signs in your dorm, call D.C. Public Works at (202) 727-4600 if you’re off-campus or come to an Eco-Action meeting.

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