Greening your sprout's birthday party (or any party!)
Birthday parties can have a huge environmental impact...think about all the waste that is generated: partyware (themed plates, napkins, etc.), invitations (& the fossil fuels it takes to deliver them), decorations (usually balloons, streamers, etc.), and wrapping paper galore! Not to mention the typical party food is definitely not organic or local and the cake is typically decorated in a dozen different artificial colored sugary icings. However, there are many ways to have a blast for your sprouts next birthday bash without all of the trash!
1. Invitations: if you can bear to have a party without printed invitations then use a site like Evites or simply invite the guest by word of mouth. But, if your like me and want to have a cute invitation to add to the scrapbook of party photos then a) order invites from a company that uses recycled paper or b) make your own! With little ones most of us have craft supplies around and it can be a blast creating your invites. And when it comes to delivery, hand deliver as many as you can!
2. Decorations: get creative here! Use wildflowers or fresh cute flowers from your yard to decorate (then compost when the party is over), create your own birthday banner than can be used each year and is sure to become an heirloom for your sprout, use Mylar balloons because they can be used over and over, use toys, etc. that you already own to add to the decor without adding waste or cost.
3. Partywares: if you are having the party at home use washable plates, cups, napkins, etc. But if you are on location (or your sprout REALLY wants a themed party, plates and all) then compromise with themed plates and napkins and recyclable cups (if you do this make sure to have a clearly marked place to recycle) Then you can wash off the plates to make a really cute craft with your little one after the party (pictures to come on this one... I am making one soon!)
4. Gift Wrap: have guest either: a) donate to a charity or to a fund for your sprouts extracurriculars, b) don't wrap the gifts and request that the items be used, c) don't do gifts at all...if you start this early your little one won't even notice, and d) recycle and or reuse the paper (such as a background for the party scrapbook page)
5. Greening the food: get cute with the food: cut cucumbers with a wavy slicer, make ants on a log (celery with nut butter and raisins), etc. Sprouts love anything that looks like something else. Go to your local CSA or farmers market to plan your menu...only serve items you can source locally. Go organic (and local if possible) on the cake...color your icing with fruit/veggie dyes (or you can contact me via Simply Sweet Cakery if you are in the greater Columbia SC area).
Most importantly, take this teaching opportunity and run with it! You can teach recycling, reducing waste, upcycling, knowing your food sources, and that a birthday is not about the gifts.