This weekend we had a 40th birthday for my husband and I almost cried at the waste. The fact that we are moving and have already packed most of our dishes made it that much more difficult to keep things eco-friendly. Besides using disposable dishes and leaving the food out so long that it spoiled, I accidentally dropped three quarters of the cake before anyone got seconds. I felt terrible all the next day, not only from the cake drop and the late night, but also because we quadrupled our weekly garbage and recycling output in a matter of hours.
At first I thought it might be possible to do my time right here on Eco Child’s Play by writing a post about WHAT NOT TO DO when throwing a birthday party. However, I got side-tracked reading all of the eco-entertaining DO’s already covered, including the used book donation idea which I loved. This got me thinking that a theme party might be a great way to reduce waste, and convince guests and co-hosting partners (spouses and children) that environmentally friendly can also mean fun.
Here are five eco-friendly theme parties to consider for your next family bash:
The Take Home party
Reinforce a no-gift policy by asking each guest to bring one item they no longer use. As each guest arrives and places their donation on the table, give them a number to decide who gets to pick their take-home gift first.
The Old-fashioned Slumber Party
Invite two or three best-friend guests (instead of ten or twenty). Ask them to dress in pajamas and bring gifts wrapped in pillow cases. Rent some movies and serve build-your-own pizza instead of all the excessive party fixings.
The BYOD party (Bring Your Own Dishes)
Instead of a potluck tell your guests you’ll be providing food but no dishes. Encourage your guests to bring cups and plates with personality (no disposables), which will add to the fun. It’s pretty hard to lose your mug when it’s got Grandma on it.
The Locals Party
Everybody knows that buying local is better for the environment. For your next family gathering ask guests to bring only locally made beverages, treats, and gifts. Play local music or invite a local band.
The Zero Impact Party
In your e-invite suggest that your guests bike, walk, or carpool to your zero impact party. Offer a prize to the guest who leaves the lightest footprint on your doorstep. There has never been a better excuse not to bring a gift. After the party plant a tree to offset necessities like toilet paper!
Related Posts on Eco-friendly Parties
- Getting Less to Give More
- Green Birthday Party Solutions
- Low Impact Birthday Parties
- Healthy First Birthday Cake
Image: Carol Esther on flikr under a Creative Commons License
[This post was written by Tara Benwell.]
Rebecca (Green Baby Guide) says
My husband just had a birthday party, too! These are great suggestions for throwing an eco-party, but I think that with the wrong crowd, some of the ideas may not go over too well; they may seem a bit . . . preachy?
One thing that we often do is simply request no gifts. This technique also has the potential to offend some guests, but I try to word it in a funny way on the invitation. Some people still bring gifts anyway, but no one feels pressured to (I hope).
As for the paper plates, we just wrote a whole article on the Green Baby Guide on Chinet’s plates. It turns out they are made from 100% recycled materials–and they are compostable and biodegradable. If you do resort to disposables next time, you could try those with less guilt!
Tara Benwell says
Yes, the preachy part is always a concern, not only with the wrong crowd, but with the wrong husband! What I’m finding these days is that kids don’t mind being told that an idea is fun because it is good for the earth, while some adults try to turn it into an ego thing. We can learn so much from kids. It’s very hard being a newbie to environmentalism, but it’s worth it, and I think when we point out our imperfections others will realize that we’re not trying to say we’re better people just because we’re making green choices.
Thanks for the tip on disposables!