I believe the answer is yes with just a little bit of thinking and advance planning, you can ensure birthday celebrations can actually be eco-friendly and sustainable. Here are a few learnings from my experience in organizing my child’s birthday celebrations recently.
1. Switch to Digital Invitations:- Most of you are probably already doing this, but just in case, start by sending digital invitations or e-cards instead of traditional paper invitations. Websites like E-Vite, Paperless Post, and others help you create attractive, digital invitations with in-built reminders and tracking acceptances, etc.
2. Consider Reusing Decor Elements:- I used the same decoration twice and was able to give it again to someone who used it. It felt pretty good till here. But when the third celebration time rolled around, tried to convince my family and little one to forgo decorations for once, as they’re typically a one-time affair. The negotiations didn’t go quite as planned. But then we decided is there was a way we could reuse some part of the decoration. This is how it got settled, the theme cutout was carried back home and was used for playing and decorating the kid’s room for a year. Not a great solution but better than it getting discarded post one round of 3 hours of celebration.
You can also use decorations made from materials like recycled paper, bamboo, or fabric. Transitioning to non-plastic decors takes time. But you can start by either cutting down on decorations or finding creative ways to reuse them. You could even consider natural decor materials like flowers and leaves instead of balloons and glitter, which is really bad for the environment.
3. Food and Drinks:- Naturally, it’s a good idea to steer clear of single-use plastics and instead choose reusable or biodegradable plates, utensils, and glassware. You can also encourage your guests to bring their reusable water bottles to cut down on the use of disposable plastic cups and glasses. However, there’s one important detail we overlooked during our efforts. Please remember to inform the caterer not to place pre-packaged disposable water bottles on the table; they should be provided on an as-needed basis.
4. Gifts:- We once dared to have a birthday without the exchange of gifts. But the first attempt didn’t quite pan out, and we ended up succumbing to the age-old gifting tradition. The only change we made was to present gifts in reusable bags and opt for eco-positive and durable goodies and we left them unwrapped. This time, we decided to involve the child in the “no gift” discussion, which met with BIG resistance. It didn’t feel right to strip away the joy of receiving birthday gifts from friends or giving return gifts. So, this year, we’re keeping the tradition alive with reusable bags and eco-friendly, unwrapped gifts from our end. We’ve also asked our guests to join us in the eco-conscious journey by avoiding gift wraps or using newspaper or tape-free paper, ensuring recyclability and reusability.
5. After-Party Waste Management:-
After-party waste especially packaged items cannot be altogether eliminated but we can dispose of them better. You can put up recycling cartons or bins at the celebration venue. Encourage guests to put recyclable items like tetrapaks, cans, PET bottles, and wrappers in the recycling bin.
Start with any of these eco-friendly practices to reduce your environmental footprint and set an inspiring example for future generations. By making sustainable choices in our celebrations, we can create cherished memories while caring for the planet.
Do write to us at [email protected] about your efforts to have an eco-friendly celebration with your guests and what inspired you to do that.