Want to Throw a Plastic Free Party? Jess With Less has you Covered with these 6 tips!

Jess Carpenter, from the blog and Instagram Jess With Less, is joining The Zero Waste Collective to share her tips on how to throw a low waste and plastic free party! This is also perfect timing with the Plastic Free July challenge!

Jess shares her recommendations for low waste living, minimalism, and curating an ethical wardrobe on her blog and Instagram, which are very inspiring.

ZWC: Thanks Jess for joining The Zero Waste Collective for an interview. You'll be sharing some tips on how to throw a low waste and plastic free party this summer. Before we dive into those details, how did you learn about the zero waste movement?

Jess: This was back in 2015; I was following The Minimalists who ended up talking about a podcast called “The Mind Palace” which was hosted by two women named Melissa and Jess. They focused on intentional living and had started to talk about zero waste in some of their episodes and the idea really sparked my interest.

I was always passionate about caring for the environment and I wanted to make as big of a difference as I could so I started finding more people living a zero waste life style, so I slowly started incorporating their habits and finding how they fit into my life. It was such fun and a challenging new way to live, and I have grown and learned so much in the past 4 years on this zero waste journey.

Jess from Jess With Less (all photography has kindly been provided by Jess)

ZWC: What inspired you to reduce your waste?

Jess: When I first found zero waste, I started connecting with more and more “zero wasters” online and through them I was being educated on the waste we make as a society and all the different ways we can help reduce it. It was like my eyes were being opened for the first time. It’s so easy to get caught up in our ways and not realize that the things we consume have a life before and after us, and that we should care about the whole cycle, not just how it affects us.

ZWC: You also share your love for minimalism and slow fashion on your Instagram and blog, which are both amazing by the way! Tell us more about what minimalism and slow fashion mean to you. How do you find that these lifestyles align with low waste living?


Minimalism is a way that I can let my focus not be on consuming but instead living. I simplify my needs, which frees up space and time to create more, travel more, and spend time with those I love most.

Slow fashion is building your wardrobe in and slow and mindful way. I feel that we over consume and it’s often at the cost of others. I believe in voting with my dollar and my vote goes to companies that provide a fair wage to its workers.

Minimalism, slow fashion, and low waste living are all about being intentional with what comes in and out of your life. The less we consume the less waste we create.

ZWC: A lot of people can be intimidated by the idea of zero waste, so it's worth pointing out that you focus on 'low waste' rather than 'zero waste'. Can you elaborate on that?

Jess: I want the idea of reducing your waste to be viewed as something that is practical and obtainable. I feel the term “zero waste” can feel like an extreme lifestyle and can be intimidating to a person that has not heard anything about it. I want to appeal to a larger crowd of people, for those who are just starting to dip their toes into intentional living, this way we can get them inspired to start making little changes and together we will make a bigger difference.

ZWC: The Plastic Free July Challenge, which The Zero Waste Collective posted about previously, is growing in popularity more and more every year (which is fantastic, BTW!). Today you're sharing how to throw a low waste, plastic free party. Aside from the logistics that you share below, do you have recommendations on how people can get others to 'buy into' the idea of a low waste, plastic free party? This is especially important because not everyone has heard of or joined the zero waste lifestyle movement.

Jess: For me, keeping my parties low waste also makes them so much less stressful. I think a lot of the times when we are throwing a party we often try to do too much and at the end of the party we are left with a ton of extra food and so much trash.

When you don’t have to go shopping to get disposable plates, cups, cutlery, napkins you end up saving money and time. I also like to keep the menu simple, I’m not spending all my time making five different dips and three different courses; people are not there just to eat! Guests end up getting to get caught up in conversation and having fun, which is what the party really should be about!

ZWC: Thanks Jess for telling us more about yourself and sharing your passion for low waste living! Tell us all about how we can throw a low waste and plastic free party this summer:

Keep it simple and pick a theme: I like to find a theme to focus on and stick with it. One time I did a taco and margarita night so that was all I made. Instead of having a ton of food and too many dishes, find a theme for your party so you not only make it simple for yourself but you will not end up with a ton of leftovers. Nobody likes food waste!

Ask for help: My friends are always asking if they can bring something and often if you say no, they just bring a bottle of wine anyway, so why not ask them to bring what you need? People want to feel like the have helped - so let them!

Use what’s seasonal: I stick to the produce department for the majority of my food and let that inspire my menu. For the 4th of July I really don’t have access to berries that are plastic free so I chose to make a stone fruit pudding with fresh whipped cream that I can get either plastic free or in a glass bottle that will be sent back to be reused.

Compost those scraps! I keep a bowl handy as I'm prepping for my party. When I’m chopping up veggies, or lemons and limes for cocktails I just toss it in the bowl and when the prep is done I put it in my compost bin.

Be prepared for trash: We do not live in a zero waste world so be ready to compost, recycle, and discard what will be coming into your house. For recycling I like to get my recycling bin out and visible so wine bottles and beer cans end up where they should. I also keep my compost out for food scraps, and a paper bag for any trash that might have come into my house (it happens!).

Don’t be hard on yourself: If you cant live without paper towels or getting a bag of ice wrapped in plastic, don’t count it as a loss. It’s all about doing our best with what we have and being realistic about what we can handle. Remember it’s a party and it’s supposed to be fun too!

Thanks Jess! These tips are great. It’s also worth noting that there will likely be a guest or two who is willing to help with the dishes, too! Getting back to the basics of using real dishes instead of disposables, and keeping it simple with the menu and décor, are easy ways to make sure there’s minimal waste.

Be sure to follow Jess With Less on Instagram, and check out her blog!

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About the Founder

Hi! I'm Tara McKenna, Founder of The Zero Waste Collective. Based in Canada, I have created this community as a hub for all things zero waste! Take a look around, and join this global conversation. You can also follow my zero waste journey on Instagram at @mindfully.tara. Thanks for stopping by!


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