Children’s parties are always a fun event to have and to plan. However, I was always conscious of how much waste is produced because of them. Decorations that will be used once, plastic utensils from food carts, give aways from loot bags that are made of plastic that get tossed aside in the children’s room- never to be played with again. Over the years I’ve started to manage the waste a little more with every party; always choosing useful and mindful give aways and finding decorations that won’t be thrown out or can be re used, or even finding a venue that doesn’t need any decoration.
This year, I decided to try to do a zero waste party. The theme for my daughter’s birthday was Princess Jasmine. I began searching for crafts that the kids could do that could be done using recycled material. I got my daughter involved in collecting re usable material for her party and she was all for it! We found a craft where kids could make their own bracelets from toilet roll. My daughter was in charge of collecting toilet roll and even offered to remove the cardboard from the still-intact rolls! We collected paper and cardboard as well that could be used.
Next, I opted to use herbs as another activity. Using stickers printed on re used paper, kids would be able to give their pots a face, like Mr. Potato head. My daughter chose the herbs to be used- sweet tasting ones! Stevia, mint, choco mint and lemon mint were her choice. The kids also got a kick out of eating leaves straight from the pot.
For the decorations, I chose to use fabric and pillows. The pillows would be taken home by the kids, and the fabric later re used as wraps for presents I’ll be giving within the year. I also made use of potted plants, borrowed from my mom’s garden. Since the theme was Jasmine, I tried to re create an Arabian garden- or the scene where Jasmine is in her garden with her pet tiger. Not sure if that totally came through, but guests did notice that nature was a big part of the decor. My sister, who is a designer, fashioned low kids tables out of re used wood so that the kids could eat picnic style on the floor. The floor was covered with carpets we took from our homes ( mine and my moms) to add to the Middle Eastern feel. After the party, the tables made of re used wood were given to a member of our staff to use in his home. Finally, for the give aways, we gave out re usable straws with cleaners that came in pouches from re used fabric, made by a friend. Some kids squealed with delight when they saw these, while a few weren’t too pleased with their zero waste give aways! Oh well, can’t please everyone. One day they will know the importance of not using plastic straws.
Cleaning up a zero waste party means… well having zero waste! The fabric was folded up, the plants were sent back to the garden and plates and utensils were washed up by the caterer. Nothing to take down, no sticky tape to clean. It took a little more planning than usual, thinking about the impact of everything. We did have a big explosion of wrapping paper and cardboard boxes from all the wonderful presents my daughter recieved, but the packaging will be re used, while the wrapper will be turned into envelopes -instead of using brown paper envelopes! The rest of the scrap from the wrapper which could not be turned into envelopes were put in our eco bricks along with other things like plastic ties.
I was honestly worried that the kids would not be content with paint, cardboard and plants, especially with the over the top kids parties these days. The kids went home, full, happy and were content playing with what they had in front of them. For once, after the party, I felt that happy that things were not going to waste and would be put to good use.