The guest list is made, the date has been set and now the nitty-gritty of party planning really begins. Whether planning for a back yard barbeque, an elegant wedding, or a six-year old birthday party, you can help the planet by incorporating eco friendly party supplies into your plan.
I’ve been to a lot of kids birthday parties lately (don’t worry, I bring my four year old) and it’s always shocking to me how much waste can be involved with a celebration. There’s the invitations, the disposable plates, cups, and cutlery, napkins galore (especially at kids parties), wrapping paper by the truckload and finally the party bags filled with favors.
The question is how much of that stuff do we REALLY need? Perhaps it’s time to break with some of our festivity traditions in favor of being gentler on the environment.
If you enter your party planning with the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ motto in mind, and minimize where possible, you can then look for eco friendly party supplies for everything else.
Here are seven tips for a greener party:
1. Use digital invitations: Nobody needs a paper invitation these days; well, most people don’t anyway (sorry Grandma, but you don’t. Just check your email every now and then!). If you can send a digital invitation to as many guests as you can, our forests will thank you for it. See a previous article I did here on EVG on eco friendly wedding invitations for some invitation inspiration.
2. Serve low-impact food: Go organic where you can. If you are having it catered, look for someone who specializes in organic, locally grown food.
3. Set an eco friendly table: If it’s a smaller party and you have enough dishes, even if they don’t all match…use them. It might mean a little more work, but it’s better for the environment. You can also rent tableware for bigger parties and they do the cleaning for you, but it’s a bit more costly.
However, if you can’t get away from disposable then go for compostable plates and cups. Many of these are made out of corn starch or sugar cane fibers and will compost under normal conditions within a year. Of course, depending on the size of the party and the size of your compost this might not be entirely practical and may need to be sent to a composting facility.
4. Throw eco confetti: Honestly, when I saw the words eco confetti, I was pretty sceptical. However, some innovative folks have created eco confetti, which is essentially a seed starter. Wildflower seeds are embedded within 100% biodegradable, post-consumer paper. After the confetti is thrown, the paper degrades and bingo…flowers!
5. Use napkins made with post-consumer waste: If there are too many guests for cloth napkins, you can get 100% recycled unbleached napkins or these napkins made of 60% bagasse, which is the fiber left over after sugar cane has been processed.
6. Use cotton party bags rather than plastic: It seems as though the party bag is a staple of children’s parties. A plastic bag filled with inexpensive trinkets that end up in the garbage or up the vacuum (speaking from experience) within a few hours. There are some lovely cotton party bags available that can be reused by your guest, which make a much more eco friendly alternative. Fill the bags with plant seeds, crayons, or even organic food disguised as a treat, such as fruit leathers, and you have a party bag that outlasts the sugar high and that parents also appreciate.
7. Forego the party favors all together: If you’re brave enough to break away from tradition and forego the party bag all together, I applaud you. In my experience, the party bag is really just a means of distracting the child long enough so that their parents can get them out the door without them having a complete meltdown. Think about it. The child is handed a party bag as they leave and as they stare into the plastic depths of sweets and trinkets, they are catapulted into the car and strapped in before they know what’s happened. So, you can still give something and achieve a similar result. Have one of the activities at the party be to make something. For example, throw a pile of different crafty materials in the middle of the table and get the children to make rock pets. Or get them all to decorate gingerbread men. Put the finished products on a table by the door and the kids can pick theirs up when they leave. It will serve the same distraction purpose, trust me.
I would love to hear your ideas on other eco friendly party supplies. The eco confetti was certainly new to me, so what else is out there? Long Island News 12 has a small bit here on eco friendly party supplies too…great for summer picnics and barbecues!