Eco-Friendly Birthday Celebrations

We all know that birthday parties are really fun and exciting event for children!  However they often create a lot of waste and use a great deal of resources. While you may think ‘eh, they only happen once a year…what’s the big deal?’, collectively everyone’s annual birthday celebrations add up to a rather significant impact on the earth. Here are 5 simple ideas for a more eco-friendly birthday celebration!

1. Use electronic invitationsEvites.com is a website that allows you to send electronic invitations for any type of event. They have hundreds of different templates for all kinds of occasions. It’s easy to use and best of all it’s free!

2. Serve cupcakes – How are cupcakes eco-friendly you wonder? Well if you serve cake you will need a fork and plate for each piece. If you use disposable plates and forks, then more waste is created. If you use real dishes and silverware than you have to use water to wash them. However a cupcake requires no additional utensils in order to enjoy it. You could also use eco-friendly cupcake liners such as the ones made by If You Care. I buy them directly from our local health food store. Another option is to forgo using a liner all-together and grease the cupcake pan instead. I have done this when I’ve realize I am out of liners after mixing cupcake batter. It works fine, although it is difficult to wash the pan afterwards. Another option is to use silicone cupcake liners.

3. Birthday Presents – So I know this may be an unpopular idea since a huge pile of brightly wrapped presents seems like a hallmark of children’s birthday parties, however it may be something you consider changing about birthday celebrations for your family? Perhaps you might embody the mindset of “less is more” or “quality over quantity“? I have a close friend who puts the following request on her children’s birthday party invitations “In an effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle, we kindly request that no  new gifts be purchased.  If you want to give a gift, please find  something small at a second hand store or pass along something that your family has outgrown”. What I love about this is that, in addition to it being an earth-friendly practice, each gift often has a unique story behind it. When my children were very young, I have requested no gifts at birthday celebrations. I would put “No gifts please; your presence is our present!” on the invitations. If family members really want to give your child a gift, a”green” gift option might be a zoo membership, children’s museum membership, or similar. Another important consideration is what is used to wrap gifts. Wrapping paper is a one time use item, as opposed to gift bags which can be used over and over again. You can also be creative in how you “wrap” gifts by incorporating the wrapping into the gift. For example small sand toys can be inside a big bucket or art supplies can be inside a container that will also serve as a way to store supplies.

4. Rethink Decorations – Often birthday party decorations are one time use items such as streamers, balloons, etc. You don’t have to forgo them all together, but perhaps a more meaningful way to decorate would be to have a few special re-usable items to creative a festive mood. For example perhaps use a special birthday platter to serve cupcakes, hang a happy birthday sign that gets used each year, provide a fabric crown for the birthday boy/girl to wear, or have a special cushion for the birthday boy/girl to sit on. Items used over and over again for birthday celebrations help create ritual. When a ritual becomes part of a celebration there is a deeper meaning and connection to the event. So I encourage you to be creative and think beyond dollar store, character decorations that could be at any child’s birthday celebration. Rather use decorations that are a unique reflection of your family.

5. Keep the Guest List Small -Basically the fewer people, the fewer resources used. Another benefit to a smaller group is a deeper emphasis on togetherness, connection, and relationship in the celebration. I believe a child will feel equally (if not more) celebrated by a small, intimate birthday ritual that is gentle to our earth than a big, expensive, party that uses a great deal of resources.

What eco-friendly ideas do you incorporate into birthday parties? What rituals are a part of your family’s birthday celebrations? Would love to hear from you!

-Sarah

PS. Tomorrow’s Tasty Tuesday recipe is for all you crunchy mamas…be sure to check it out! 🙂

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