Regardless of size, celebrations and special events can generate a lot of additional waste. In fact, a 2006 study of 25 different venues and events in California indicated that on average 2.44 pounds of waste is generated per visitor, per day.*
Below are several strategies for reducing waste at your child’s next celebration.
No gifts, please
It’s a cultural norm to bring gifts, especially for a birthday party, but the relief experienced when saying no to gifts can outweigh the pressure to conform when it comes to reducing waste and clutter in our homes.
If you aren’t ready to go gift free, consider asking guests to bring one of the following low-waste alternatives:
- A (used or new) book for a book exchange, allowing all kids to receive something “new” to take home.
- Handmade cards – kids love sharing their artwork.
- 1-2 dollars to contribute to a gift fund for the birthday child to shop for their own gift.
- A donation to an organization that is important to your family or child.
- An experience gift, such as a gift card to the local ice cream joint.
Skip the goody bags
It’s also become the norm to offer goodie bags to guests to take home. These are often low-cost toys and candy that quickly become waste or sugar highs. Skip the goody bags, no one will notice.
If you aren’t ready to do away with the tradition, look for creative low-waste alternatives, such as items made by the guests at the party that adhere to the theme of the celebration. An example is a hat made out of newspaper at a pirate-themed party.
Keep it simple when it comes to food
Children are typically more focused on running around and having fun than they are on the food. So consider these options:
- Host a party in the morning or afternoon between mealtimes. You will eliminate the need to serve a full meal.
- Skip the individually packaged treats and juice boxes and instead opt for homemade or items that can be purchased in bulk with less packaging.
- Put small amounts out at a time and replenish once eaten to avoid food waste. Compost any food waste that can’t be avoided.
Don’t forget the dishes
Whenever possible, use durable dishes, cups and utensils instead of disposable. If you don’t have enough, consider borrowing from someone that does or purchase a large set of used dishes to use for parties. If you can’t avoid disposables, be sure they are compostable, if you have organics recycling service.
Make it easy to clean up
If guests will be responsible for cleaning up after themselves, group recycling, organics and trash containers together and make sure they are well labeled to avoid contamination. If you don’t have organics recycling service at your home, consider taking the material to a drop-off site or to an acquaintance that does.
And finally, don’t forget to have fun!