Give your kids the meaningful gift of a sustainable celebration
Everyone loves a good birthday party.
But between the decorations, the food and the many presents, there’s a common and mostly hidden denominator to most b-day fetes: Waste.
And while the COVID pandemic had birthday parties looking quite different in 2020—and that will likely apply to 2021 as well—we can all do our part to make our celebrations more eco-friendly, whether we’re limited to just seeing our immediate household or our safe bubble.
Here are seven easy ways to cut down on waste at your kid's next birthday party and still create a memorable experience that everyone will enjoy...
1. Ditch the paper invites
Having a birthday party that is kinder to the earth starts with how you invite guests. Skip the mailed paper invitations and head online instead. You can send invitations by creating an event page on Facebook or simply by email. Online services like Evite have personalized invitation templates for parties (and are free to use!), and also easily keep the guest list, RSVPs, directions and other important information in one place.
2. Get outside
Make memories and not trash by opting to get outside for your party. Enjoy games like scavenger hunts that require little to no equipment, or rent a bouncy castle for the afternoon for lots of laughs with gear that leaves after the party ends. A lawn birthday party is perfect for games like potato sack races, and the perfect venue to BYO blanket and do a teddy bear picnic. In winter weather, an Elsa snow-themed party outside can have guests bundled up enjoying a campfire with hot chocolates.
3. Deep six the goodie bags
A long held tradition for children’s parties is to send home revellers with a small goodie bag of treats. Typically, that ends up being small plastic toys and other trinkets that get played with once or twice before they are sent to the trash (or forgotten about in a closet). If you want to do a goodie bag, think of using something eco-friendly for the bag itself instead of plastic—like cloth or brown paper—and fill it with items kiddos will actually use, like sidewalk chalk or a colouring book.
4. Say no to disposables
So often at children’s parties there is a lot of plastic waste, starting with the plates and cutlery used to serve food. Ditch the single serve items and use regular crockery and cutlery instead. If you’re worried about breakage, consider using renewably sourced and biodegradable table settings instead, like bamboo plates and cutlery. You can cut out the need for these items altogether for opting for finger foods like fruit and vegetable kabobs and individual sandwiches or pizzas. Skip the bakery cake with excess packaging and opt for home-baked cupcakes instead. Not a baker? Use icing on boxed mix and I promise no one will tell the difference!
5. No balloons and disposable decor
Millions of discarded balloons end up clogging up waterways and potentially harming marine life each year. Instead of using plastic balloons and other disposable decorations, create fun party banners and signs using materials you have in your home already. Cardboard, construction paper and even cloth remnants can be used to create banners. You can even get guests involved by making their own cardboard or paper party hat to wear during the celebration.
6. Longlasting renewables
If you’re not into making your own decorations, think about investing in items like pom-pom garlands and hand-sewn cloth buntings that can be reused year after year. Bonus: choose gender neutral colours so that they can be used for all occasions and ages.
7. No presents
Instead of multiple presents for the birthday boy or girl that may or may not be used or enjoyed, skip the material items altogether and focus on the celebration. If guests are insistent on buying something, ask for a donation to a charity of their choice. Another option is to ask for a small dollar amount to go towards a larger present that the guest of honour would really like. Or an annual membership to your local science centre/nature refuge/pool/children’s museum.