Google+ Authentic Parenting: Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Common Birthday Features (rerun)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Common Birthday Features (rerun)

content provided by Alex S.

Image: Sakura Mutsuki on Flickr
If you have two or more kids in your home there's a good chance there's a birthday coming up in the next few months. That probably means a party, which means preparation. If you're a parent that's even a little bit concerned about the environment, a child's birthday is a good opportunity to explore green ways to go about such family and friendly festivities. Otherwise, you'll be making a big contribution to your carbon footprint. On such an important day, who needs that kind of karma for their kid?

Here are five ideas when it comes to planning a green birthday party for your kid:

Paper bags instead of wrapping paper: You'll probably be making a run to the grocery store in addition to gift shopping. While there, opt for paper bags and re-use them as wrapping paper. Online guides exist that can show you how to cut the bags for a proper fit, and you can spice them up by decorating them with stencils or glitter.

Sky lanterns instead of balloons: Everybody knows how bad balloons are for the environment. But we also know how much kids love them, so what's a parent to do when a birthday arrives? A great option are sky lanterns, which are essentially giant Chinese lanterns that hover with the heat of a flame like a hot air balloon. They are 100% biodegradable while also being 100% fireproof. They come in several colors and even in the form of an alien head, and are going to look way cooler than any ordinary rubber balloon.

Send E-invitations instead of paper ones: Depending on your child's age either you'll be handing out the invites to parents or they'll be handing them out to their friends themselves. But in both cases there's a good chance you can opt to send an email or another form of electronic invite instead of traditional cards. An email can be decorated to look as enticing of an invite as a pre-made invitation card, but unlike cards they can be sent all at once instead of labeled and snail mailed.

Stick to real plates and utensils: It's tempting to skip the mess in favor of easily-disposable Styrofoam or paper plates and plastic utensils, but it's also pretty bad for the environment. If you have enough plates, cups, and utensils for everyone, then use them instead. You can label cups ahead of time with names written on tape on the side. It's more work for you, but less of an impact on the environment.

Image: andymangold on Flickr
Encourage eco-friendly gift-giving: Going about this is key since not every parent or friend of your kid has the time or the know-how to select a green gift.  But if you can encourage guests to pick eco-friendly gift options through your invite, then do so. State that any gift is of course warmly welcomed and will be used and appreciated, but that things like iTunes gift cards and items that use minimal plastic packaging are preferred.

Before making plans for a child's upcoming birthday celebration, stop and think about the amount of trash and waste that gets generated at these events. You won't be able to prevent all of it, nor should you expect your child to suffer a lousy party for the sake of a cleaner planet, but small measures to pull off a greener get-together will certainly lead to a bigger reduction of your carbon footprint.



  1. I like the sky lanterns!! We have stopped doing birthday parties - one of the reasons being environmental. We let our boys choose what they'd like to do instead. It's a lot of fun and makes it more personal, plus we believe it takes away that feeling of 'entitlement' that we gain from being spoiled and the center of attention on our birthdays. I wrote a blog about why if you're interested!

  2. Wow! That was a pretty cool design. I think any eco friendly materials can be very artsy sometimes.
    Plastic Bags from RainbowPolyBags


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