Anyone who has hosted a birthday party knows that, after the fun and festivities are over, what is left is often a small mountain of trash and (hopefully) some happy memories.
What we want is less for the landfill and more happy times to remember. There are many options for planning an eco-friendly birthday party that will minimize waste, reduce your carbon footprint and help set an example for others to follow.
Here are some simple steps to help you get started:
Eco-Friendly Birthday Party: Invite or evite?
Planning an eco-friendly birthday party starts with deciding who to invite. After you’ve made your list of happy party-goers you’ll need to decide how you’ll invite them. This is also the first important step in greening your party.
Instead of sending out paper invitation there are lots of options for sending electronic invitations. One of the more popular alternative is evite.com, but there are many others including greenvelope.com and punchbowl.com.
Other paperless options include using email, creating a Facebook event or simply picking up the phone.
Even if you prefer to use paper invitations, you can use recycled paper and print them out on your computer. This is your chance to be creative old-school style!
Let them eat cake
Let them eat not only cake, of course, but all sorts of party goodies. As for the cake, it may be tempting to go down to the local grocery store, but why not bake the cake yourself or, if you’re afraid you baking skills might put a damper on the festivities, have a friend bake the cake?
Avoiding a store-bought cake eliminates generating extra trash in the form of disposable pans and cardboard boxes. You’ll also have control over the ingredients in the cake, especially important if any of your guests have allergies or simply can’t abide carrot cake (or whatever – I’m revealing my own personal bias against carrot cake).
As for all the other eats and treats, look for tasty, healthy options from a local farmer’s market or other sources of local, organically grown food.
On real plates
Paper plates might seem the way to go, especially those made from recycled material and you promise yourself to recycle them again after use. While there’s nothing “wrong” with that, avoiding as much paper as possible, recycled or not, is always the best choice.
Yes, you’ll have a bit more work cleaning up those non-paper plates, but you’ll ultimately use less resources than use-and-toss paper plates. The same goes for napkins and tablecloths too. You will use water and energy to clean up, but if you line-dry cloth napkins and tablecloths you save a lot of energy.
If using reusable plates for your eco-friendly birthday party isn’t an option, look for compostable tableware and napkins.
Balloons are overrated
Not to put too much of a chill on our party spirit, but balloons just aren’t very green, even the green ones. We don’t really want to pick just on balloons, but often they are the main element of party decorations, so they get our attention here.
Balloons are made either of mylar or natural latex. As you can probably guess, if you use balloons for your party, we suggest those made from latex.
As with balloons, a simple consideration of the material used is the best guide for choosing (or making) the rest of your decorations. Paper, not plastic, is a good rule of thumb – think natural, recyclable, or compostable materials.
Lead by example
The best part about planning an eco-friendly birthday party is that it isn’t really that complex or difficult. From picking the right party theme to deciding between water slide rentals or pool parties, you can maximize your green impact with a little planning. This is true whether you’re planning a party for your child or for your best friend, considering your green options allows you to lead by example.
The best storytellers understand that the most persuasive narrative is when you “show” instead of “tell.” It’s one thing to tell people that recycling minimizes landfill waste, quite another simply to show how simple it is to incorporate eco-friendly options into your birthday parties, indeed into your daily life.