June 11, 2012 in Features

Do Your Part: Best birthday wish? A green celebration

Terri Bennett McClatchy

When you plan your child’s next birthday party, give the planet a gift at the same time. Here are my ways to throw a greener birthday bash.

Paperless invitations: You can customize the emailed invitations with photos and custom wording. It is cheaper and faster than printing or writing out invitations and makes it easy for parents to RSVP.

Party with the planet in mind: Consider hosting a low-waste experience for your child’s friends. It could be a trip to pick strawberries, a cooking class, or an afternoon at a petting zoo. That way you can avoid buying the streamers, balloons, and other hard to recycle decorations.

Decorate responsibly: If you do need to decorate, you can be festive without creating trash. For instance, line a wall of your party room with paper and have the partygoers write birthday messages on it. Then recycle it. Or, you can have the kids create party hats with newspaper and recycle those too. If you do have to buy specific decor, keep it generic so you can reuse it.

Eco-friendly dishware: We’ve all seen the piles of plastic plates and cups filling up trash bags at parties. There are eco-friendly alternatives. Tough plastic dishware can be reused at home. Or, give guests a marker to write their names on cups to keep track of their drink.

Don’t give away junk: We know – and kids know – there are usually take-home favors at birthday parties. Consider alternatives to cheap plastic toys. Packets of seeds for kids to grow or a small sapling to plant are fun activities for children to do later.

Have recycling in reach: Let guests know which items can be collected. When cleaning up, don’t dump everything out with the garbage. Take the time to sort.

Give old toys new life: After a birthday bash, your home will be inundated with new toys and games. Consider creating a new birthday tradition with your child and take their older and gently used toys to Goodwill or other donations spots.

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