A reader asks:
What are some options for eco-friendly party decor for kids and adults? So much of those supplies just end up in the garbage.
A. Sometimes one-time events like parties or weddings or Christmas tend to fly under the radar when it comes to sustainability, probably because they only happen once and awhile and so they fall outside of our usual routines. However, when you start to look at the amount of garbage that can be produced at a single birthday party it can be significant.
Imagine 10 kids with 10 treat bags (filled with candy wrappers) and the packaging from 10 presents which are wrapped in paper (which is probably not recyclable) and 10 paper plates and 10 napkins (okay, maybe 20 napkins) and 10 juice boxes plus all of the decorations. Now add a party for every kid in a single school class over a 6 year time frame.
Fortunately, there are some options.
For kid’s parties, try the following:
- Limit the number of disposable items and garbage.
Give reusable items such as art supplies in treat bags instead of candy.
Get creative with decorations, try Christmas lights (LED of course) instead of streamers or use a reusable cloth banner.
Use reusable gift bags instead of wrapping paper.
Consider serving handheld food that doesn’t require plates and dishes.
- Talk to your children about asking for donations instead of gifts. Many different charities will help make giving a fun experience for children. For kids who love wildlife, Earth Rangers is a great example.
- Lose the balloons.
Balloons are the worst. Not only are the not recyclable or biodegradable they easily escape into our waterways and injure wildlife. Click here for some truly horrifying pictures of how balloons hurt wildlife.
For adult dinner parties, here are a few more tips:
- Go virtual
Send party invitations through a website like evite is not only greener, but it is easier to track RVSPs and comments from guests.
- Go vintage.
You may not want to invest in a set of fancy dishes for your party, but a mixed and matched set of china and table linens from the secondhand store can add a funky charm to your table. Much nicer than paper plates and plastic cups. And, if they get broken or stained, they only cost a couple of dollars.
- If you and your friends have regular parties, consider sharing party supplies between your households. Passing along a kit of reusable dishes and linens is not only good for the environment, it also helps keeps your party tradition going.
A few simple changes can make your parties more sustainable and possibly, even more memorable than before.