Green Lifestyle

Published on November 19th, 2020 | by Scott Cooney


Sustainable parties and potlucks with no eco-guilt or shame – possible?

We’ve all been there. You go to parties with some aspect of greenness, whether it’s shooting for zero waste or locally sourced food or any number of other things. Things are going great, but then boom…there’s an awkward moment where someone gets a pang of eco-guilt, and others don’t know how to respond, diffuse, help, or reorient. Green people are passionate about making the world a better place, and their friends know it, and generally support it, but it does present some opportunity for pitfalls that everyone would prefer to avoid. After all, we just want to hang with our crew and relax, and not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

But it happens, even to the greenest among us. I consider myself pretty sustainable, but I have some friends who are much deeper green than I am, and I have botched several attempts to participate in a broader vision of sustainable and inclusive events. And then sometimes it happens even despite our best intentions. For instance, I brought a salad to a potluck one time in a re-used ziploc bag. Of course, the host didn’t know it was reused, and there was an awkward moment. He and I are great friends and we’re both really into the green (all kine green, if you know what I mean..haha). If I didn’t know him for 5 years, and knew what he was thinking, it would have made that awkward pause even more pregnantly awkward, and set the party into a different direction for both of us. It happens. Eco-guilt is real, and it can turn into awkward social moments that can hold back friendships, even. And what a shame that is. Let’s not let that happen!

So how do we best deal with it? How do we reduce the potential for pitfalls? How do we handle the pitfalls when they do happen? I googled around for this, and a search for relieving eco-guilt at parties didn’t really give me any clues. So I put together this 100% anonymous survey. I’ll publish the results in this same article later, and hopefully we’ll learn something! And if the survey is not showing below (having trouble getting it to show on some mobile devices), just click here to take it


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About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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