For the past few months I’ve had a niggling conscience, much like Jiminy Cricket. I didn't receive a visit from the Blue Fairy, however, I did see that video going around about the tonnes of plastic waste that goes into our landfill and never breaks down, or takes 1,000 years to. I could no longer ignore the little voice in my head, which was gently pointing out that I was contributing more than the average person to this strain on our environment.
As I empty our warehouse bin into the wheelie bin for the second time this week, I'm not going to tell you we are going completely eco friendly, as my nose would grow like Pinocchio's and at the end of the day I am a single mum with two kids to feed, clothe and educate and need to run a profitable business in order to do so. However, I have had a look at our current stock and the ways that we can reduce our weekly rubbish collection and yours at party time. We don’t claim to be the experts on plastic or eco products and have more research to do, but as a start, we have come up with the following changes we will be implementing effective immediately (or as stock runs out and replacements arrive):
- Discontinuing all of our plastic party bags - replacing them with paper party bags, party boxes and popcorn boxes in most themes, as well as plain colours to match every theme
(we can also print themed personalised labels to go on them), plus reusable tote bags in most themes.
- Discontinuing our plastic cutlery range - replacing with wooden cutlery (n.b. I have looked into the edible cutlery being made in India but they are quite a way off distributing internationally and have a huge backlog of orders).
- Replacing our plastic tablecloths with paper ones, e.g. themes we have so far include Army, My Little Pony and Monster High, as well as plain coloured tablecloths that will go with every theme.
- Discontinuing all balloons - replacing them with decorations like our mini paper lanterns. Even though all our balloons are latex which is biodegradable it still takes a long time to break down and be eaten by animals in the meantime which can cause them harm.
- Discontinuing plastic party favours like maze puzzles, kaleidoscopes and whistles that come in the favour packs (which let’s face it get thrown out the minute kids get home anyway!) - replacing them with practical reusable items like pencils, notepads, rubbers and jewellery.
How you can help without compromising your OCD to have everything matching the theme (or is that just me???):
- Use paper party bags or boxes and decorate them with stickers rather than the plastic themed party bags. We can even send you personalised stickers to put on them to match your theme.
- Alternatively, use reusable bags to hold party favours, like our mini tote bags, e.g. beach, butterfly, dinosaur, pirate, princess, space, superhero, unicorn & western.
- Hand out party favours that can be used/reused, e.g. stationery, jewellery, hair accessories, puzzles, games or craft activities.
Tableware & Decorations & Recycling
- Use snack size plates rather than big ones (n.b. that's mostly what we stock anyway, especially when party food is usually snack size anyway or in individual portions.
Use paper decorations, e.g. our mini fans which are only $1.50 each and available in colours to match every theme and can then be used as decorations in your child's room, home or garden.
Put out a box / bin / tub for recycling at your party (I always do this so that plates, cups, wrapping paper go straight into it and my friends and family are trained to do this now lol).
Recycle our ziplock bags (made from linear low density polyethylene aka LLDPE) that your orders come in, e.g. store toys, stationery, craft items, food, clothing, etc. We have looked into using other options like paper bags but we'd then have to use twice as much bubble wrap.
- Avoid frozen party food (it pretty much all comes like Laura Palmer, i.e. wrapped in plastic if you’re too young to understand that reference).
- Buy items like popcorn in bulk, or better yet make a big batch of it yourself, then serve in coloured popcorn boxes which act as decorations, especially if you put stickers on them to match your theme, as well as reducing plastic waste and you only put out what you need as you need it (i.e. top up the boxes if the kids want more) and you can save the rest for school lunches, etc.
- Make and serve things like jelly (a favourite at all of my kids parties!) in reusable cups or glass mason jars instead of plastic cups with bamboo/wooden or metal spoons).
- Instead of cans of soft drink and poppers put out jugs of drinks and either eco friendly recycled paper cups or reusable ones, e.g. our novelty mugs or cups with straws in themes like circus, dinosaur, jungle, lego, knight, pirate, princess, rainbow (more coming). These can then double as the party favour for the kids to take home and you can label them beforehand with the kids names so there’s no mix ups (n.b. these are BPA free and pass FDA regulations but please wash before use).
- Instead of pass the parcel (i.e. something with layers of future rubbish) use a bag or box and do a lucky dip version rather (we reuse / recycle pinatas for this and put the prizes in reusable organza bags).
- Play games that don't require any type of object, e.g. duck duck goose, musical statues or bumps, simon says, copy the dance move.
- Use games you already have or that can be reused, e.g. twister, limbo.
- Kill two birds with one stone and have a scavenger hunt as a party game that becomes the party bags, e.g. give the kids something to put the items in and a list to go find them.
- Instead of wrapping birthday presents, use gift bags that can be reused by the receiver (who cares if you get it back again!).
- I know some people don’t like this idea but giving cash or a gift card instead of a present is a huge way to reduce waste, teaches kids delayed gratification, monetary responsibility and how to save for something they really want – I think $5 or $10 is reasonable - just give it in a gift card tin or organza bag and not a card that is going to be thrown out a week later.
- Use free downloadable invitations that you edit, save and email to most people - we have been growing our collecting of free printables and you can also go to our pinterest boards for each theme for loads more creative ideas.
I could tell you to use cloth tablecloths and napkins and proper cups and plates but that would not only put me out of business but also I live on a rural property with tank water so water conservation is just as important to me as reducing wastage. And let’s face it, who wants to spend hours after the party cleaning up when all you want to do is crawl into bed!!! I do have platters in just about every colour (damn OCD) which I’m happy to lend out.....