Sunday, July 11, 2010

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Ever since starting this parenting gig in July 2007, I have been looking forward to throwing birthday parties. DH and I loved to throw parties before we had children and, now that the full reality of parenting has hit me in the face, I now know that those days are far behind (and years ahead) of us so children’s birthday parties are really where my partying energy is going these days.

I really enjoyed planning and preparing for Iain’s first two birthdays. It was great to attend the parties thrown by my friends for their children. Naturally, I took note of the things everyone was doing at their parties to maintain tradition and incorporated many ideas into our parties, with a few of my own ideas added for good measure.

There are a few things that have bothered me about the parties we have thrown over the years, however, and that is the level of waste attached: paper plates and napkins, plastic cups that, seriously, barely make it out of their packaging intact let alone through the hands and fingers of one year olds and toddlers, the decorations and, one of the biggest problem areas for me, the loot bags.

Believe it or not, I have spent the year since having Aidan trying to think of alternative ways of having greener parties because I did not want to double the amount of birthday waste we would be creating. It’s not easy being green in this regard but we are trying and, I hope, will get better at it each year.

Fate helped in taking me by the hand when I was reading our Costco membership magazine featuring Mompreneurs Suzanne and Suzanne at Green Planet Parties (and if you visit their link and the site is down that’s because they are taking July off for family time and will be back later in the summer). One of their specialties is fabric birthday decorations and I bought a ‘party in a bag’ which includes a ‘Happy Birthday’ fabric birthday banner that we can use for any member of the family, complete with a matching table runner and cloth napkins. The thought of these decorations becoming a family tradition thrills me no end, means I can use up all those paper napkins that have accumulated after only two years of birthday parties, and can even get/make more reusable cloth napkins in the future if I want them. Could I have made any of these items myself? Sure! Do I have the time? Not even close. Do I love the thought of supporting Mompreneurs, particularly Canadian ones? Absolutely.

The other idea I went for from Green Planet Parties is their loot bag ideas. I didn’t go so far as to fill cloth loot bags with lots of green goodies though I love the idea (but the money tree in the back yard has yet to bloom). I went for the idea of giving one quality piece of loot (in this case, their bean bag bugs). It is my hope that the children attending the party will think of Iain and Aidan for years to come when they play with their piece of loot.

What else are we going to do different this year? For starters, we did not send out/give out party invitations. I will be using potted annuals to add colour to our home. Like I said, I’m working on small steps here.

I already have some thoughts for next year. Some of these to add to the reusable decoration theme would be great and requesting that presents be ‘green’ packaged.

Any suggestions to add to the idea jar?


Yarnhog said...

Not really any suggestions, but for many years, we have used the same paper/foil "Happy Birthday" banner I bought at the grocery store for one of our birthdays. It lives in a drawer in the kitchen and comes out for every birthday, to be hung over the dining room window. I've taped torn bits a couple of times, but it's become such a tradition that when I thought aloud about buying a new one, I was loudly outvoted by the entire family. So I'd say the chances of your birthday banner becoming a family heirloom are good!

Anonymous said...

I love the fabric banner. Loot bags are such a thorn in my side. I do the piece of loot too.
I invested in little IKEA plastic plates instead of paper. We've used them a lot

Anonymous said...

Such a great find, Patty! Thanks for sharing. =)

Samantha said...

The banner is adorable!! Like Kristin, we have the plastic Ikea plates as well. Six plates for $2. Same with the cups and little bowls. They are totally worth the investment. :) I can't believe Iain is three! I can't believe Ethan will be three next month.

Happy Birthday Iain!!