Throw a Sustainable Party

Jessica Holsey, President and Emily Doubilet, CEO (right), Sustainable Party; premission on file

Throw a Sustainable Party by using eco-friendly disposables and compostables. This is something you may have considered doing or have even begun doing every opportunity you have. For Emily Doubilet, her passion for the environment and living a sustainable lifestyle took a sharp turn that led her to become the CEO of Sustainable Party.

Traveling the World

Perhaps Emily Doubilet gained her appreciation for the Earth from traveling and swimming alongside her parents, underwater photojournalists for National Geographic. Emily's appreciation motivated her to create her own company, Sustainable Party. Her idea was to create a unique eco-friendly company that catered to the needs of party-goers and party hosts. The company's clientele ranges from individuals to large corporations hosting business and employee events.

LoveToKnow's editor, Sally Painter recently caught up with the busy entrepreneur and had the opportunity to discuss Doubilet's vision for the future.

Interview: Emily Doubilet, CEO Sustainable Party

LoveToKnow (LTK): What inspired you to create Sustainable Party? How long have you been in business?

Emily Doubilet (ED): During a semester away from college, I worked in Palau as a dive master and saw firsthand the accumulated effects of climate change on coral deterioration and habitat erosion. I knew then that I wanted to study how humans can lead fruitful and fulfilling lives while strengthening, rather than harming, the environment.

Out of College

ED: After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies, I worked for three years as a Sustainability Director for IceStone, a green company in Brooklyn. There, I implemented high green standards, including green meetings and events, but found a deep lack of interactive online resources for green event management and a scarcity of places to buy eco-friendly party supplies, such as biodegradable disposable tableware.

I love helping people throw a fun party and became obsessed over making those parties sustainable. And so, almost two years ago, we launched Sustainable Party.

Becoming a CEO

LTK: Do you think your business experience prepared you to be CEO of your own company?ED: I'm a self-taught entrepreneur and go-getter! Organizing projects and overseeing them comes naturally to me. I trained myself in sustainable entrepreneurship and business. For example, I co-founded a recycled products co-op and store while attending Oberlin College that continues to help students reuse and recycle school supplies. I also started and ran a performance arts project from finance to operations, and more recently, my own musical band.

Help from Mentors

LTK: As an entrepreneur did you have any mentors?

ED: I learned about business during my time at IceStone and worked very closely with the co-CEOs and founders, Peter Strugatz and Miranda Magagnini. When I started Sustainable Party, they became my mentors and fostered my transition as the CEO of my own company.

I can't take full credit for being a lone CEO. I have an amazing business partner, my high school friend, Jessica Holsey, who is President of Sustainable Party. She has an awesome background in finance, and the skills necessary for hardcore operational management. We round each other out very nicely.

Entrepreneur Dreams Come True

LTK: Have you always wanted to have your own company?

ED: Yes, absolutely. I feel that, among the other twenty-something-year-olds who are my peers, we're going to leave our mark as the entrepreneurial generation. With the Internet, media and technology tools at our finger tips, there's really no reason not to work for yourself these days if you have an idea and the passion to make it a reality, particularly as our economy and policies move towards sustainability. This opens doors for smaller, localized businesses so more people can achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.

Sustainable Party's Green Mission

Sustainable Party logo; Image used with permission from Emily Doubilet, CEO

LTK: What do you view as your company's mission in the sustainable marketplace?

ED: To encourage people to embrace sustainability in all aspects of the party that is life.

Specifically, we aim to:

  • Spark innovation in the party planning and bio-plastic party products field by acting as a catalyst for research and development of more sustainable products and practices
  • Provide people with a one-stop-shop for greening their events and lifestyles while having fun - from getting the information to buying the products they need

Sustainable Products

LTK: What products can first-time customers expect to find in your store or website?

ED: We carry eco-friendly disposable tableware made from renewable resources and plants, as an alternative to plastic, Styrofoam or paper. One of our coffee cups is made by a USA non-profit center for the visually impaired. We also carry party gifts and miscellaneous items, like little cards and notebooks made from renewable elephant-dung paper, a product that supports conserving elephants in Sri Lanka.

Product Criteria

LTK: What criteria do you use to select the products you offer on your website?

ED: We have very strict standards and hope to help clarify and strengthen the bio-plastic industry's sustainability product standards, in collaboration with the Sustainable Biomaterials Collaborative and their environmentally preferable purchasing specifications.

We screen our products for the most eco-positive life cycle analysis from production to disposal with standards based on Cradle to Cradle principles: impact on human and environmental health and toxicity, energy for production and use, working conditions behind each product, and design to cycle by recycling or composting.

Throw a Sustainable Party

LTK: Do you have a good mix of clients and events?

ED: We have a good mix! Many individuals use our products for their sustainable weddings and outdoor picnics in the spring and summer. We encourage customers to use non-disposable tableware to avoid waste, but inevitably people need disposable tableware for huge events and even picnics. I had a wonderful picnic-for-five in the park this past summer and used our Sustainable Party picnic kit: a few steamed leaf plates and some corn-plastic cups for wine. I threw them in the compost when I got home.

Some of the organizations using our products and signage:

  • The White House used our products for a picnic!
  • NYU and Columbia University ordered eco-friendly tableware and used our sustainable party signage for a social entrepreneurship conference.
  • The Feast, a conference on social innovation used our products and trained their catering staff in sustainable party practices.
  • The North Carolina Museum of Life and Science hosted a zero-waste zero-landfill event with our products.
  • Thousands have sipped wine in our corn-cups at large arts events such as The Wassaic Project Summer Festival these past two summers, the Slideluck Potshow, The Explorer's Club, and Nolcha Fashion Week parties!

Free Signage Package on Website

LTK: What is your Signage Package about and how can customers receive it?

ED: It's a free download on our website that provides people with tools and resources to green their events. Another really important free resource we offer on our website is an Event Guide filled with the most effective best practices for greening an event from start to finish.

After Party Take Back Program

LTK: How does your After Party Take Back Program work?

ED: We are in the pilot stages and it's only available in New York City where we're based. We're working on expanding the program. Manufacturers and retailers like us should be responsible to ensure that the products we sell are returned back into our hands, so we can avoid waste and focus on renewable closed-loop products.

Although we aren't re-melting the bio-plastic and re-manufacturing those products right here in the USA, we could be doing it, and we're working to close the loop. In the meantime, we want to make sure that the bio-plastic products are taken to an industrial compost facility until America catches up to the rest of the world and institutes curbside and ubiquitous composting. Just like recycling, bio-plastics need a little extra help to get sent on their journey back to the soil, which then fulfills the ultimate value of the product.

NYC customers have two options: for an additional fee we can arrange for their products to be picked up when they're done, ensuring the waste reaches the industrial compost facility. Or for no fee, they can self-deliver the products to our location in Brooklyn, which already gets serviced by the compost company.

Plans for the Future

LTK: What are your plans for the future?

ED: Our main plans are to keep making more parties sustainable, and to expand the resources, product selection, and the depth, presentation and quality of information at Sustainable Party. We're working on a larger project to manufacture bio-plastic products in the USA, and to further increase the sustainability and recyclability of the materials, and the accessibility to composting and take-back infrastructure.

We're also in the process of developing the first bio-plastic biodegradable champagne flute, cocktail tumbler and wine glass. We have some other secret products in development up our sleeve! We'll be expanding our product line, strengthening the information and resourcing on green-event planning.

The next time you plan an event, you may want to throw a Sustainable Party. LTK would like to thank Emily Doubilet for taking time out of her busy schedule to tell us about Sustainable Party.

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