A few years ago after a birthday celebration for one of my children I flopped onto the couch – one exhausted mama after games, cake, treats, and water wars for a pile of three year olds. I then scanned the room. Piles of new toys, plastic packaging, heaps of wrapping paper and deflated juice boxes were strewn about my family room. I sighed and took a mental inventory of all the junk that had accumulated in just two hours.
Rather than leap up to organize the chaos I sat back and mused on the fact that this celebration of life appeared to be damaging the very future I hoped my children would inherit. That, ironically, my attempts to celebrate life and birth and all things icing and candles that day made a horrible impact on the very planet they would need to live out their dreams. There had to be a more planet friendly way to ring in another year!
Eight mom-tested tips for greening up a birthday party.
1. Creative Wrapping – New children’s pillowcases offer creative, reusable ways to wrap a gift. For girls, consider tying a colorful hair ribbon around the top of the pillowcase. New, reusable grocery totes also trump gift bags and are usually cheaper. Sand pails, baskets and bright storage bins also provide ways to wrap that last beyond the party.
2. Sip Smarter – Consider serving beverages out of pitchers. Give kids reusable cups or containers they can take home as party favors, rather than juice boxes or bottled water.
3. Homemade Treats – Bake your goodies at home. A cake from scratch has far fewer additives than most store bought options. Consider making popsicles in ice trays or freezing organic fruit dipped in chocolate to serve at summer parties.
4. Goodie Bags – Fill them with items that will actually be used or that make an impact. Crayons and art supplies, sunscreen, healthy snacks, fair trade chocolate. For girls, beads and jewelry that come from fair trade companies (check out Equal Exchange and Bead for Life).
5. Keep it Close – The closer your guests live to the party destination the smaller your carbon footprint as you travel there and back.
6. Re-gift – Yes, taboo, but consider re-gifting items your child received but never wore or played with.
7. Paperless Invitations – Use eVite or other online services for both invitations and thank you notes.
8. Gotta have paper? – Consider seed paper for invitations and recycled paper for wrapping.
Tracey Bianchi is a freelance writer, speaker and mother of three squirmy, messy children. She is the author of “Green Mama: The Guilt Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet.” You can catch her musings at www.traceybianchi.com or pick up her book on Amazon or wherever books are sold.