Greener Birthday Parties

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I’ve been friends with Alicia since college.  She’s a “green” professional and also blogs at Green Lifestyle Changes. Today she is sharing ideas for a greener celebration or birthday party!

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We love birthday parties!  But seeing lots of paper and plastic go in the trash makes us cringe.  When we throw parties, we like to use reusable plates and dishes  and just run the dishwasher an extra time or two.  However,  I realize that doesn’t work for every busy mom trying to throw a nice party for her kids.  Children also really love the napkins and cups with the super hero or princess prints on them that you can get at any party store, or drug store, or supermarket, or, well, you get the idea.


So what’s a busy mom to do?  Here are some compromises:

  • Buy the cute matching cups and napkins, but skip the plates.  Sticking a pile of plates in the dishwasher isn’t that much work.   We like to pick up plastic plates at end of season sales to have a pile of matching ones that we can use for children, or for outdoor events.
  • Remember that plastic silverware doesn’t have to be disposable.    After the party, collect all the plastic silverware and throw it in the dishwasher.  Then send it in lunch boxes with homemade lunches.  If they gets thrown away or broken, it’s not the end of the world.
  • Collect and recycle the wrapping paper. I think the most important piece of greening a birthday party though, is having a paper bag or two with you to put paper wrapping in and making sure it gets recycled, rather than trashed.  This step is so easy, I’ve been known to do it for friends.

Recently I was at a birthday party in a park and they didn’t have any way to recycle water bottles or wrapping paper or anything.  I grabbed two cloth bags from my stash in my car (kept there for unexpected shopping trips) and stuck all the recyclable bottles and cans in one and then scooped up the wrapping paper into the other.  When I got home, I emptied them into my recycle barrel.  It was an easy thing for me to do, and it really helped the hostess with clean up!

If you’re ready for the next step in being green for your party, here is one solution to writing on a cake without using artificial colors!


Happy Greening!


Thanks Alicia! I love those ideas! I keep two wastebaskets in my kitchen – one for trash, the other for recycling – so we can recycle as much as possible. Do you have tips or ideas for a greener party?


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  • Jonathan (EcoDad)

    We have a small recycling bin in our bedroom upstairs for recycling packaging and toilet paper roll tubes. Making doing the right thing, e.g., recycling, as easy as throwing something in the trash leads to a lot more of doing the right things.