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Home arrow GreeniacsGuides arrow Children’s Birthday Party: Guide to Making it Eco-Friendly!
Written by Suzanne Heibel   
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Thursday, 21 May 2009

Children’s Birthday Party: Guide to Making it Eco-Friendly!

Everyone likes a good party, but everyone likes a party more if its eco-friendly. Unless, of course, you are a child, then you probably just like parties regardless of their carbon footprint. If you have a little one of your own you are entirely aware that parties are a kind of crowning social achievement, so obviously they must be completely cool! And although Hannah Montana may not be cool to you, you can make it a sweet birthday for the both of you by keeping it green.

BENEFITS for the Environment: More than a regular birthday! At birthdays there are theme (and single-use) cups, napkins, plates, cakes, party favors, decorations, and possibly some sort of ornate or ceremonial headdress. If all of these can be replaced with recycled or reusable products then it is an apparent bonus.

BENEFITS to your wallet: High.

BENEFITS to the party crew: High! Although they may not know it, you are helping those babies solidify a positive future world and environment. Anything done green is plus one for team “prevent global asphyxiation.”

Cost: No increases in price.

Time and Effort: Medium. It is no more than a normal birthday would take, unless you do not have any eco-friendly stores in your city, of if you wait too long to order supplies off the internet.

Instructions:

1. If you are going for a theme, find a website or local store that has recycled paper products. (100% recycled paper napkins use over 97% less carbon dioxide (CO2) than bleached napkins and 95% less water!). A great supplier is www.GreenPartyGoods.com. They have classy biodegradable bamboo plates and utensils for perhaps a teenager and up crowd, and for the young kiddies there are utensils that look exactly like plastic but are made of either corn or potatoes.

Not very many chain stores have recycled party supplies, but many of them sell items like Seventh Generation, which specialize in eco-friendly paper products. So if you want a theme, the internet is the best stop.

2. Pick a location. At a park? At a beach? Your very own backyard? Having an outside birthday party will get kids on their feet and running around, giving them the exercise they want and need. If a large outdoor venue is far from your home, suggest that the kids get dropped off at your house then recruit your spouse or another child's adult to carpool. This makes it less of a hassle for everyone and at the same time saves gas. The best thing would be to find a park in your neighborhood. Have cake and presents at your home, as garbage can be more controlled, recyclables would be recycled hopefully, and maybe even you would be able to compost leftover food! Then walk the guests safely to a local park where they can play outside. For information on setting up a compost system at your home if you do not have a local composting service, check out: http://www.greeniacs.com/GreeniacsGuides/Make-Your-Own-Compost.html and http://www.greeniacs.com/GreeniacsGuides/How-to-Build-a-Composting-Toilet.html.

3. Every party needs games! Plus they don't use nearly as many resources as crafts do.

Outdoor Games: If the event is held anywhere besides a beach, park, or pool, then entertainment may be in short supply and will need to be provided by you, the party planner. There are some awesome outdoor game ideas and the only supplies you will need are balloons, music, a hula hoop, and a potato! Check out: http://childparenting.about.com/od/kidsparties/tp/outdoorpartygam.htm.

Sure using balloons for a mere minute is a waste but you can always buy biodegradable ones! Check out: http://www.oneinhundred.com/Wholesale-customized-printed/Biodegradable-latex-balloon.htm.

Indoor Games: If it is winter/cold, raining on the b-day, or you just don't have a backyard, indoor games are perfect. One my mom used to do is a string maze where she would vacate a bedroom of all living things and create a string maze. If there are 5 total guests at your party you'll need five spoons of thick strings of all different colors. Hemp is a good material because it is generally accepted as an eco-friendly resource and it is tough. At the end of the string attach a prize, like a piece of candy or perhaps a bag of homemade organic cookies, then slowly unwind the string all over the room: under chairs, around lamp shades, etc. Do this with all five strings so when the maze is done there is a colorful string maze that kids will have to climb over and under things and each other to receive their prize at the end.

More active indoor games can be found at http://familyfun.go.com/games/indoor-outdoor-games/specialfeature/cabin-fever-games/.

4. For an eco-b-day, a homemade cake is the best! Well, homemade cakes are actually always the best, but the fact that you can pick your ingredients and do it without taking an extra trip travelling somewhere means you are reducing your carbon footprint.

5. The goody bag is the most promising of promises because even if you didn't have fun at the party, you at least get a sweet conciliation prize. I remember when I was in elementary school I would get paper party bags with junk from 99 cent stores that I would usually tire of and throw away in a week’s time. For reusable bags revisit Green Party Goods (http://greenpartygoods.com/), they are made of cloth so they can be used again and again. Plus they and super cute—my personal favorite is the Castle Bag Princess Bear—so they will actually be used again. If the bag's not enough throw in some homemade organic cookies, small bags of trail mix, and some small eco-friendly toys. www.PlanetHappyToys.com has some cool ones, but they are a bit pricey. Amazon's “eco-friendly toy town” (http://www.amazon.com/Eco-Friendly-Toys-Green/b?ie=UTF8&node=562229011) and www.FatBrainToys.com also have good options.

Get out there and be creative, it will be fun for you, your kids, their friends, and great for the environment!

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1http://www.triplepundit.com/pages/askpablo-napkin.php.




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