Celebrating a child’s birthday is always full of fun and laughter especially if a party is involved. Unfortunately a typical party usually results in a lot of waste being produced which is not much fun to clean. One of the aims of Little Miss Green The Party Queen is to help reduce the impact of children’s parties. So here is an incomplete list of easy suggestions to help decrease party waste without decreasing party fun!
Reusable! The easiest way to reduce waste is to use what you already have. Even investing in a reusable set of party ware that can be brought out over the years for each party will be least expensive in the long run and better for the planet.
Washable fabric tablecloths are a much nicer alternative to plastic and they are more hard wearing. We are lucky in Hong Kong that we have the availability of lots of fabric markets around the city where you can pickup a few yards of remnant fabric in gorgeous prints and colours for only a few dollars.
Food & Drink
Buy in bulk and make food at home if possible, this may help in reducing all the packaging when buying smaller quantities and ready made food. Lots of easy finger and unprocessed foods that don’t need to be eaten with plates and cutlery are a good way to go. Avoid having single serve drinks like juice boxes and opt for recyclable containers like large plastic bottles or jugs. Avoid offering straws, chances are they won’t even be missed!
Have a marker pen handy to label cups and plates so each guest knows which is theirs.
Bring some reusable containers to make it easy to take home any left over food if you are partying outside.
E - invites save paper and can be made to suit any theme or style. Invites via SMS & word of mouth use few resources. If you are using a traditional paper invitation try and use recycled paper. Or creatively make your own from your child’s art box.
All too often from a large birthday party, children receive more presents than they actually need or sometimes want. A good way of getting around this is to organise a joint present that all the guests collectively purchase. Older children may want to receive presents that are suitable to donate to charity (for example Dog treats and blankets to take to the RSPCA or gently used toys for less fortunate children). No gift parties are also rising in popularity.
Wrappings for presents can also creatively cut down on wasted paper. Using the cartoon section from newspapers or fun pages from magazines is a good way to recycle. Especially for younger kids that may not appreciate a wrapped gift anyway. Fabric can also be used to wrap your gifts, either a piece of fabric tied with a ribbon or in a reusable fabric bag.
Often a very big source of waste are the little party bag trinkets that often don’t make it home from the party let alone last for days or weeks. Finding inexpensive and quality party bag treats is difficult at times, but with a little planning there are alternatives. Depending on the party, children could make their own party favours to take home. It could be chocolates, cupcakes, masks, ‘build your own’ wooden toy sets or even a little potted seedling. And party bags don’t have to be paper or plastic bags! Quality, reusable fabric bags or a reusable/recyclable box containing a piece of cake, some candy or a yo-yo, or even a thank you note in a book (which could be party themed) are good alternatives to a flimsy bag.
Reusable decorations are a great way to not only save waste but also money. Fabric banners can be hung to add a festive touch to a party and can also be reused to decorate a room or play area. Fabric decorations can also made even more special by featuring at each birthday party over the years and included as part of your family tradition.
Balloons may look great for the short time at the party but the remnants can be quite damaging especially for sea life surrounding the islands we live. There are other alternatives for hanging decorations that can be reused. Paper lanterns for example make an attractive and eye catching decoration in a room or swinging gaily from trees in a park. Coloured ribbons floating in the breeze also add a touch of whimsy to a little girl’s birthday party.
Another very easy way to cut down on waste going to landfill is to ensure you have separate bins, boxes or containers at the party to separate your waste into recyclables. Having an extra few bags or boxes for paper, cans and foil and plastics will make a big difference to the rubbish created. People will more likely separate their own waste if there is an incentive to do so - making it easy for everyone else to do will mean less work at the end of the party.
Have a great celebration!