Sometimes we make green living more complicated than it should be. The concept is simple – a natural lifestyle should come naturally, shouldn’t it? And shouldn’t it be simple to celebrate an eco friendly birthday party?
But our culture’s disposable mindset and obsession with consumerism can make it tough to live simply. Especially when it comes to kids’ birthday parties.
How to Host an Eco Friendly Birthday Party
Think of the last child’s party you attended.
Chances are – the cardboard, paper, plastic, and heavy-duty tie wraps filled a garbage bag or two. And that’s just wrapping paper and packaging! Most people don’t realize that with all the laminates, dyes, and glitter… most wrapping paper is not recyclable.
Then there are all the toys and favors. What is the long-term impact of batteries and all the indestructible molded plastic?
So many of those toys will never, ever break down in a landfill. And many of them came from China and are loaded with plastic toxins.
Add in the fact that an over-the-top birthday party reinforces the notion that “bigger is better.” Not exactly the message you want to send to your child, is it?
So, what’s a parent to do?
HOST AN ECO FRIENDLY BIRTHDAY PARTY
It all comes back to keeping it simple. These tips might turn the conventional birthday party upside down, but they’ll set you free along the way.
Here’s how to host an eco friendly birthday party everyone will enjoy.
ADJUST YOUR MINDSET FROM DISPOSABLE TO REUSABLE
A party for 30 people can send more than 100 single-use items to a landfill.
The best party decoration is one that doesn’t end up in a landfill. Etsy sellers, online retailers, and boutique shops offer handmade fabric bunting banners and eco party favors and in tons of themes and colors. Make a DIY birthday banner with recycled paper, fabric strips, or even party napkins. You can purchase some of these items, or use them as inspiration to make from things you already have on hand.
- Mini chalkboard stand place holders or rustic real wood place card holders
- Handmade soap baby shower favors
- Wildflower seed bombs
We love supporting small businesses, but if big box is your game, you can also find cloth birthday banners there. You can use them again, swap with other parents on your birthday party circuit, or resell them.
Consider making your own piñata. There are so many fun ideas online.
And one of our favorite ways to reduce party waste is to use real plates, cups, and silverware. We’ve collected some sets of melamine plates from Target over the past several years. If we’re serving hot food and it’s a small party, I use our everyday dishes.
We host a Kentucky Derby party every year, and by buying a few commemorative glasses every year, there are always enough for all our guests to enjoy a mint julep.
A party kit is a box of reusable tableware you can rent out for celebrations and then return to be used again. The Party Kit Network brings together people from all over the world helping their communities access this more sustainable option. Each party kit is independently run by a wide range of eco-minded people including individuals from home, parent–teacher organizations, community lending libraries, small party businesses, and zero waste stores. There’s a free guide available to download on the Party Kit Network with advice on sourcing equipment and operating a party kit.
DITCH THE GOODY BAGS
From one parent to another, does anyone really need another sheet of tattoos and a tiny plastic jug of bubbles? Kids’ birthday party goody bags are generally filled with cheap, plastic toys that symbolize (to us anyway) unnecessary consumption.
Experience parties (pottery making, tie-dyeing a t-shirt, touring the local fire station) leave a memory that doesn’t get lost in the bottom of the toy box. Set up a craft bar for beaded necklaces, clay sculptures, painted pots, cloth ninja masks, or your child’s favorite thing ever craft.
Even better, you can use your craft bar to encourage kids to create their very own gift for their birthday buddy. Kids get to make a meaningful present, party-goer parents are relieved of birthday pressure, and kids enjoy entertaining themselves.
SAVE A TREE & SKIP WRAPPING PAPER & GIFT BAGS
Aren’t we all tired of spending $5 on something that gets torn and tossed? Wrapping paper is just plain wasteful.
If you have paper gift bags left over from gifts you’ve received, by all means use them.
Rather than buy new wrapping paper, try wrapping gifts with your child’s artwork, old travel maps, the comics, or any box, bucket or basket you have on hand. We’ve got dozens of ideas here on how to wrap gifts sustainably. Another unique, reusable alternative is a fabric gift bag.
BLOW OFF THE BALLOONS
If you’ve never thought of where balloons could end up after the party is over, take a look at the photo gallery at BalloonsBlow.org.
One look at the birds, seals, sea turtles and other marine life who are strangled, tangled, or choked by balloon ribbon or bits of balloon and you won’t find those balls of latex (and their false biodegradable claims) so festive.
SERVE HEALTHIER TREATS
Your child’s birthday only comes once a year. If she loves cake and frosting, this is the time to let her have it!
But there’s no need to have an entire table full of sugar-laden junk. We once attended a birthday party at a bouncy place where the only drink available was soda.
Balance out the cake or ice cream with organic fruits, veggies, and protein. And instead of sodas or conventional fruit juice, serve water in your reusable cups or compostable cups.
OPT FOR A NATURE THEME
Go beyond the traditional superheroes and princess parties. For some gorgeous ideas for parties inspired by nature, check out Naturally Fun Parties for Kids. And of course, there’s the no-theme birthday party. Let the kids use their imaginations to celebrate the special day.
Still need inspiration?
Here’s a look at some party themes that are nature-inspired or you could easily tweak to make greener by not including plastic or making a healthier menu.
An Aloha themed party from LayBabyLay
A Disney Moana Themed Birthday Party from Catch My Party
Endless ideas for Harry Potter themed parties from Buzzfeed
And we’re pretty much obsessed with this Bright Boho party from InspiredByThis