In a world where most people are trying to do their bit to reduce, re-use and recycle, it often strikes me that the party industry is lagging behind. Disposable plates definitely make clearing up easy, but they’re not so great for the planet. And the glitter that most face painters use may well be safe for the skin, but it still goes into the ecosystem when it’s washed down the drain. Parties aren’t a great venue for green preaching, but I can’t deny it troubles me.
So, in an entirely non-judgmental and not-remotely-preachy way, here are my top tips for throwing a greener party that still has buckets of fun!
#1 Ditch the disposables
I know – oh, how I know! – that washing dishes is no fun at all, especially after you’ve spent two hours in a noisy room with a party of kids working off their sugar high. But you can maybe start by ditching the plastic coated disposables. Plain paper plates are cheap, take fewer resources to make, and can go straight in the bin when they’re done. There are also companies that supply eco-friendly partyware, such as Little Cherry and, as demand increases, the premium cost will reduce.
In an earlier post I discuss the lack of importance of themed decor to most children, and I still maintain that the vast majority of children do not care one jot whether their sausage rolls are eaten off a plain white plate rather than a Peppa Pig one.
If you are having a small party, then save your money and use the crockery you have at home. OK, possibly not your best Wedgwood dinner service, but the ubiquitous IKEA plastic plates? They’d work brilliantly!
But the first and easiest step you can take to reduce your party’s impact on the planet is to ditch the plastic straws and the plastic bottled drinks, and replace them with cups. You can reduce spillage by serving drinks in small quantities.
#2 Go minimalist on the decor!
I must confess that I always decorated up my party space because a party room without any decoration will look a bit sad. But you can ‘reduce’ by keeping the decor stylishly simple. And if you save the decorations you can re-use them – I had one Happy Birthday banner that did 4 parties before I eventually accepted that it was looking overworked, and binned it. And my first set of Halloween decorations are still going strong (even if the skeleton does require annual surgery!) Check out Pinterest for ideas on recycled party decorations – if your kids are craft-inclined, then they can help make their own decor!
A quick fix that will massively increase the green credentials of your party is to exchange helium-filled foil balloons for good old latex, which really does grow on trees! I’m not kidding – latex is a sap that comes from the Para rubber tree. And that makes them biodegradable. So once you’re done with your party balloons, pop them into the compost bin and they will degrade naturally. If you want more decor-oomph than the usual knots of balloons dangling from the walls (which I actually really love!), give a thought to ordering balloon animal centrepieces. They look super-cute and can double up as party bags later!
Foil balloons are a much less green option, and helium is a non-renewable resource that we actually need in our hospitals. So #goteamlatex
#3 Pass the buck
Ask your entertainer or party host what they do to lessen their business’s impact on the planet. In every industry it’s easier and cheaper for businesses to not bother to green up. But we, as consumers, have the power to take our business elsewhere if they don’t. It is literally the only power we have to change things, so don’t be afraid to use it!
I hope that doesn’t sound too daunting (or preachy!) Do you have any ideas for making the party venue a greener space? Leave a comment if you have!