This post is written by Meera Jain @thegreenmum - Making family life a lil' greener and easier.
You can get to know more about Meera by visiting www.thegreenmum.net as she shares her trials and tribulations of living a green lifestyle with a busy husband and two little girls.
Zero Waste Celebrations for All Occasions
Birthdays, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, all of these holidays are associated with love, family, friends... and waste, aren’t they? Don’t get me wrong, I like celebrating the holidays as much as the next person, but I do find they are becoming occasions where society embraces mindless consumerism.
It is possible to have a hearty, memorable party while keeping trash levels low. I’ve had family over for Christmas, I’ve hosted adult and children’s birthday parties, and not once has anyone complained about the lack of plastic or waste! If I can do it, I bet you can too! Check out the following five tips that I swear by to throw a zero-waste party.
Start a conversation with your guests about the type of party you are hosting before they arrive. Not only will they be less surprised to see some of the minor changes, but your guests will probably be more mindful of the things they are bringing into your house! When my oldest daughter turned four, we included a note in the online invitation about how we are trying to get our children to appreciate experiences over tangible things and that we would be reducing the waste produced at our party. Not only were the attendees careful about the kind of things they gave her, but not one tangible gift was brought over. Who knows? Maybe a few other parents were encouraged to do the same for their future parties!
All You Need is Food
When writing your shopping list, the only thing you really need to include on it are ingredients for the food you will create. You don’t need paper plates, plastic cutlery, or styrofoam cups. We opted to use our own dishes and wash them afterward, but if this is not a possibility for you, you can always rent or borrow extra dishware. Some companies will even do the washing up for you!
Check out the food we sourced and made for my youngest daughter’s first birthday! It was as simple as snacks bought using my own containers in bulk, fresh veggies with homemade hummus, cut-up fruit, and homemade ranch popcorn! The snacks were a hit, and needless to say, we had very little leftover by the end of the party!
Think Outside the “Box” for Gifts
People are so well-meaning these days. They want to bring a gift for every celebration. Whether it is a toy for your child, a bottle of wine for your collection, or some other well-meaning gesture, most likely, it is something we don’t really need! There are so many incredible waste-free options for gifts. One can request experiences or a donation to charity. Perhaps you can politely request no gifts at all.
I tried something different this year for my Valentine’s day gift. As I’m not the most technically savvy person out there, when I heard about the video gift-making company called “VidDay,” I know this was something I wanted to explore. After quickly creating an account, I was able to upload a variety of videos I had collected from my husband's friends and our family. VidDay put together a beautiful group video that came from the heart. This was easy, zero waste gift-giving at its finest!
Think about the applications of this video gift maker for a couple’s anniversary or birthday! In my opinion, the most meaningful thing I could ever receive would be a surprise birthday video gift. The idea of seeing adorable videos of my children craftily grouped with kind words from my friends and family would be an unforgettable experience! (I hope my husband is reading this... my birthday is about six months away!)
You’re Craftier Than You Know
When it comes to decorating my house for a special occasion, I tend to be a “less is more” kind of gal. But I know many people that take a great deal of pride in having beautiful decor to accompany their party. Instead of buying decorations, why not try and make your own? Using paper and/or fabric (and Pinterest), you’d be amazed at what you can create. Buntings, paper lanterns, streamers, the world is yours!
Failing that, think about decor whose end game will be sustainable. Look for compostable items such as things made from wood or bamboo. In my opinion, natural decorations such as flowers and plants are always a winner. I’m always amazed at the homey effect a simple house plant can have.
Create an Experience Worth Remembering
Think about some of the best parties you have attended. Was it made them memorable? Was it the parting gift you were given? Was it the color of the new table cloth? How about the plastic plates and cups? No, of course not! You remember the music, the food, the games, or the laughs you had! When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we spent a lot of time discussing whether or not to pay for seat covers for the chairs in our reception. When we thought about the most recent weddings we had attended and couldn’t remember whether the couples had invested in seat covers, we realized that these were not the kinds of things that people thought about. We ended up going without. Spend your time and energy in creating an unforgettable experience for your guests and them, and the planet will thank you for it.