Stop Wasting on Birthdays and Summer Parties
By Julia Chiarella-Genoni, Ask Mama Moe
If you haven’t instilled the zero-waste mentality with your family, the summer is a great time to start taking a hard look at what you are doing when it comes to parties and get-togethers. When the kids are little, making birthday parties or summer BBQs easy is essential for survival. But there are some things you can start doing now that will not only be just as easy, they will be less wasteful. Here are six things to change this season for birthdays and BBQs.
- Napkins – if you have never done this, it might sound crazy, but using cloth napkins is easy and much eco-friendlier. The same thing works for a tablecloth. It can be tempting to add a theme to your child’s birthday party with a throw-away tablecloth, but those things are such a waste. Find a couple of reusable tablecloths in a festive color or pattern and save them for parties.
- Decorations – At our home, we invested in a durable, weather-resistant rainbow banner that we take out for each birthday party. Balloons are fun (although some kids hate them) but they are terrible for the environment. There are now biodegradable balloons (even water balloons!) and they are worth ordering or finding before a party if you want balloons at all.
- Food – I’m all for making a party simple. Ordering pizza for 20 kids makes sense. What doesn’t make sense it throwing out 20 plates, 20 sets of utensils and 20 cups. Find a nice collection of reusable melamine or strong plastic dishes and cups and use them for all parties. They will cost less in the long run and you won’t be adding to a landfill with each party you have.
- Wrapping – find wrapping paper that is recyclable (not all wrapping paper is) or use a paper gift bag that can be reused by the gift receiver. Another solution is to have part of your gift be the wrapping. For example, you could wrap a gift in a light scarf or a beach towel.
- Cards – I love cards. I love receiving them as much as giving them. So, I can’t see myself stopping that very special tradition to waste less. However, if I make the effort to gift a card, I try to find one that a friend will want to keep because it’s beautiful. Some cards now are so nice they can easily be framed! Another alternative is to find a simple recyclable card because again, not all cards can be recycled.
- Loot bags – limit the loot to one item with little to no wrapping. Find something useful and fun like sunglasses, a ball or a frisbee. Those tiny items from the dollar will be thrown out, so don’t bother getting a bunch to fill a bag for each child. Not only is it wasteful and disappointing for your kids when they break, but lots of dollar store items do add up, and you will be paying a lot for nothing.
Thinking a little more about how you prep for a party gives you a much clearer vision on what waste you are producing. I have started these habits already with my family, and I can tell you that having a party now feels like less work, less stress, and less guilt.
Are there things on this list you will try? Are there other things you do already?