While it’s easy to get carried away when planning kid’s birthday parties, being at a friends house is usually exciting enough for most children- they’re just there to play! So before you start piling a shopping trolley (or cart, because you don’t have time to actually go shopping), plan ahead, to avoid unnecessary plastic and waste. From plastic plates and cups to cheap toys in party bags, leftover food and disposable decorations, kids birthday parties can generate a lot of waste- but they don’t have to. It is possible to host a zero-waste birthday party for your child and we’re going to tell you how.
Forget about the traditional, wasteful ways of celebrating a birthday. Waste-free events will generate conversations among parents (perhaps giving you a chance to show others how easy it really is) and will leave you feeling guilt-free.
Lack of time, money constraints and juggling everyday life may be pressures leading you to believe that you can’t pull this off, however, it’s about swapping. Transfer your efforts of driving around shopping and looking for things, to making things at home and borrowing from friends and family, using resources you have access to.
When planning your next birthday party, here are a few things to keep in mind to create a zero-waste (or as close to as possible) kids birthday party. It’s all about adjusting your mindset from disposable to reusable.
Instead of paper invitations, create an invitation on something like Canva (which has plenty of templates you can use) and distribute via email, text, or through a private Facebook event or message. Paper invitations just get thrown away so it’s a good place to start looking at alternatives for birthday party planning.
Look around at what you already have, or consider borrowing from friends and family. If you need to purchase, try to source decorations from op-shops or sustainable brands. Fabric bunting can be a colourful decoration to add, from triangle shaped bunting to your kid’s name or “happy birthday” spelt out. The bunting can be stored and reused for the next birthday, or, if it’s your child’s name, hung in their room! You can create these yourself for a DIY craft project, or find the generic shapes or phrases at a store.
Solar powered fairy lights are another nice decoration. Spread them across the room, or fill jars with the lights to create lanterns. Paper lanterns are also a good replacement for plastic balloons, paper lanterns are collapsible and can be reused. You could also add fresh flowers to the mix as well, these can always be composted!
Don’t go overboard when preparing food. Only put out what is needed, otherwise, there may be a lot of food waste, after what’s left is covered in coughs and dirty hands from the kids. Balance out sweets with fruits and veggies.
If you’re supplying all the party food, you have control over where you source the food and ingredients. You can plate up all organic, locally grown and plant-based foods if you choose to. Involve your child in the preparation of the menu and try serving their favourite foods to make it extra special.
When it comes to plates, cups and cutlery, spend the extra time cleaning up (hopefully you’ll have helpers for this) so that there are no disposable dishes.
Gifts at kids birthday parties can sometimes be overwhelming. Although many of these gifts are usually plastic toys. You can request gifts such as books, craft or gardening related gifts. Otherwise, you could request no presents or charitable donations- this needs to be made clear on the invitation that no presents are allowed if you wish to do so.
It would benefit everyone if cheap plastic toys stuffed into a plastic bag are no longer given out at kid’s birthday parties. Rather than do this, you can give kids a homebaked treat to take home. Herbs, plants and seeds also act as good replacement party favours kids can take home and actually use. Alternatively, you can just forget the party favour idea altogether. There’s usually enough food and fun at the party!
Planning a zero-waste birthday party for your kids can be fun. There are plenty of ways to get creative, with many environmentally-friendly alternatives to the traditional disposable party items. Hosting an event like a birthday party is a good prompt to make you evaluate your own plastic consumption. Hosting an environmentally-friendly birthday party encourages conversations between parents, and hopefully inspires others to do the same when it comes time for their next event.