Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Environmentally Friendly Birthday Party

Happy Earth Day!!

As an Earth Day post, I'll explain the changes we have made to our parties, specifically our birthday parties. When you have kids, you go to many, many birthday parties. I was always sickened to see how much trash is generated at those things. But we moms participate in what I call "competimommy", and I feel that's how many of these wasteful habits are formed. When I was a child, things were much more simple, and some of us are gonna have to break away from the typical kid party formula to get back to the simple.

So, here is a list of the things we cut out: paper plates, forks, cups and napkins; plastic tablecloths; and plastic bags of plastic party favors. Where does all that stuff go after a party? The trash. Imagine how many birthday parties are thrown every single weekend, and that is a ton of trash. And those cheap party favors are ridiculous! I always throw them away as soon as we get home anyway because they break and are chocking hazards. Really, we think children need to learn that the birthday boy gets gifts, and we don't all need a consolation prize. But that could lead to a whole separate topic.

So, I researched for a while before I finally found a lead on where to buy sturdy, washable plastic plates. Ends up my local restaurant supply store could order them for me for a good price. So I got 48 simple white plates. They also sold me good, 18/10 forks, and restaurant type plastic cups (think all-you-can-eat buffet). I got plastic kid's cups from Target and a big storage tub. Now, we bring our tub of dishes to a party, throw the dirty dishes back in the tub, and run them in the dishwasher when we get home. They will last through all our parties.

Now, I know all these things are plastic, and it required water to wash them. But sometimes the most sustainable solution is what is gonna last long term and create less waste. And dishwashers have been found to use less energy and water than hand washing. Recycled paper products are available (as are biodegradable), but I believe the production and transportation of those items would create more impact than my long term solution.

So, those are our ideas. Yes, some kids may miss the party favors. Sometimes we still get something small, like balloons, for each kid. As for any trash, we bring our recycling bins with us. We end up with a very small bag of trash when the party is over. And the parents are always very interested in the idea.

Maybe it spreads.


Coffee Lover said...

That's a great idea! I'm glad to know that it uses less water to use the dishwasher because I absolutely HATE washing dishes by hand. (even worse than cleaning toilets! haha)

Leah said...

I think this is a great idea. And also, I am THRILLED to know that my dishwasher uses less water than hand washing. I'm not surprised though...especially the way that I wash dishes which is by holding each single item under a full blast hot stream of water until it loosens the food particles and then scrub it with a sponge....and then rinse it off. Meanwhile never turning off the faucet. I HATE hand washing. In fact, I've begun to stock pile dirty dishes at my house until the renovation is finished. (It's a "dirty" secret of mine.) But also, it's because my only sink is the gross laundry room sink.

Johnna said...

Yeah, that's how I handwash dishes too. The dishwasher is definitely easier! I feel for you living through that renovation. Now you have no kitchen OR bathroom!

Larin Catscar said...

This is great...definitely something that I hope catches on. I hate disposable products but I've been guilty of using them (even at my 1-year-old's birthday party). I'm not looking forward to all the crap I'll have to deal with as she gets older and goes to birthday parties, etc.