This year in January, I happened to go to an extravagant birthday party of my sister’s friend’s son. As my sister was not well, I had to take the responsibility to take her 4-year old son along with two of mine to the aforementioned party.
And by extravagant I am not exaggerating my words. It was in a huge lawn with streamers and balloons and banners hung all over the trees. Jumping castle, a small obstacle course, two candy stations, tattoo, magic and toddler games. I forgot to mention a pony ride too.
No doubt the kids had the fun of a lifetime, but in my mind there was a constant whirring- what a waste of resources. Where will these plastic streamers and balloons go? In the landfill? These candies and hordes of food which is wasted? Of course I could not say anything to the host. But I had resolved that I would not, ever, host a party like this. It’s not just show off but it doesn’t even teach the kids value of mother earth.
So today I wanted to write about a party where the plastic waste and wastage of other resources is minimum.
What are the 3 rules of a birthday? Decor, food and lots of fun.
- Send e-invites. They are eco-friendly as well as cost effective.
2. A fantastic decor – can be done without creating plastic pollution. For this the balloons must be done away with. Instead, put up colourful paper buntings, DIY pom-poms, fabric ribbons, paper banners, which can be re-used year after year and won’t create any waste. They really look great. Decorate the wall with small hearts or flowers.
If you have plants at home, re-arrange them for that fresh and earthy feel.
No time for this? No worries. Just take 2 twine ropes and hang family photographs. Or make a display wall of your kiddo’s art work. Looks fantastic and personalised.
I have a wall at home, dedicated to kids’ art and craft.
3. Now the food. To avoid wastage always count the number of guests. As in every Indian household, we make food for ’10 + the number of guests’. But the rule of thumb should be ‘number of guests – 10’. This is because there is so much variety of food that guests keep on munching and lose the appetite for dinner.
If this is not possible, then keep finger foods. Like sandwiches, pita wraps, pizza slices, cupcakes. This way, whatever is left over, can be sent to charity. There are many institutions like this.
4. Use your household cutlery for food, which can be washed later. If this is not possible, use disposable bamboo cutlery and paper drinking straws. They can be composted. A little costly but think about the amount of carbon footprint you will be reducing.
4. Then the next biggest criminal is birthday gifts and favours. You would definitely agree with me that 90 percent of the gifts that we get, are either useless or the birthday boy or girl already have them.
Inform everyone beforehand that no gifts will be accepted. Or if they really need to give something then give some money (always mention a max limit), so that he or she can buy that one big gift he wanted. Maybe a cycle or a game or some clothes. At least he will use those. I know it will be looked down upon, in Indian households, but then we have to start the change somewhere.
5. Now the party favours can be made zero waste by removing plastic altogether. Some examples can be potted plants, recycled notepad, seed pencils, a story book, muffins wrapped in stylish paper wrap or some goodies/eatables in a personalised tote bag. (For more gift wrapping ideas and gifts, click here.)
This doesn’t require much effort on your side. By making a few, small changes you can make your party eco friendly and reduce waste to minimum. All in all teach your child to respect Mother Earth. Reduce, Reuse and recycle..