I recently celebrated my daughter’s first birthday; a big event in any parent’s life. Like most things, I tried to give the party a green focus. I knew I wanted to achieve a green status, but I wasn’t totally sure how I could get there. I was aiming for the title of Waste Free, but I’d had little exposure to the idea in the party environment . I decided I would tackle some of the major offenders and soon become excited at how it was going to turn out. However, it was more difficult than I thought! Here is my attempt:
Paper Invitations: I went the Facebook route to invite people. But I was stumped with some friends that aren’t online or that I had just made through the mom world and hadn’t linked up on FB yet. I managed to get away with just four paper invites. In the future I might try the evite method as well so I can send emails to those that I’m not ‘friends’ with.
Paper Plates: I knew I didn’t want a garbage bag full of plastic cups, cutlery, and paper plates. My idea was to ask everyone to bring their own plate and cutlery. No one replied that they thought it would be a problem so I thought my goal would be achieved. So I was a bit defeated (and laughing inside) when many of my guests showed up with their own paper plates or plastic cutlery (my bad for not specifying). Next year I’ll provide all of the plates I think.
Non-packaged foods: ambitiously I planned to cook or prepare all the food. I was going to make natural juice with fruit and water and have pitchers of juice and water. I was going to buy all my veggies at the farmers market, cut it up, and have my own veggie trays. We also planned on doing burritos where all the stuffings were handmade and non-packaged.
Mental note for next year, this takes A LOT of pre-planning and work. We ended up with store bought juice and water (I cried inside when I saw all the plastic). A friend volunteered to bring the veggie tray and, knowing how little time I had, I accepted gratefully but had to bite my tongue and not request that it came plastic free. Thankfully she knows me well and it did! Our burritos were the only item that came close to my vision (minus the store bought salsa). And those only happened due to my mom cutting veggies, cooking beans, and grating cheese for two days straight.
Cake: I proudly stated that my daughter’s first cake would be homemade, suager-free, all natural, and without dyes. The night before at 9pm I still hadn’t started baking. We ordered cupcakes. I had to play blind to all the dye, sugar, and wrappers that came off the cupcakes. Although they looked beautiful and my daught loved them.
Presents: I protested the need for presents. A had so much stuff already. Instead, I suggested a loonie for her piggy bank. I thought we would avoid both excessive packaged toys, wrapping paper, and plastic toys. Everyone came with gifts. But almost all were in gift bags and presents were amazing. We were so overwhelmed with people’s generosity.
Goody Bags: I knew I wanted to avoid plastic bags and toys that would just be thrown out. I wanted to give something people could use and that would promote green living. I decided to make reusable snack bags for everyone. (PS – start making those more than 2 days in advance) I was making my last one as my dad was loading the car with all our stuff. But everyone loved them! I filled them with kid snacks and accompanied them with a book.
Essentially, I didn’t completely meet my waste-free goal. But I learned a lot of lessons, most importantly that parties (green or otherwise) take planning and preparation. Thank goodness for grandparents!