The idea of a traditional birthday party for toddlers is not at all eco-friendly, but let’s talk about how to address that somewhat.
Sustainable toddler birthday parties are becoming more popular as we all freak out about the state of climate change. Maybe it’s silly to dwell on something like how to make toddler birthday parties more sustainable, but maybe it isn’t, and I am still trying over here!
Here are some tips for making your small child’s birthday party eco-friendly:
Serve organic and/or locally sourced food
When it comes to food, many different terms get thrown around – natural, organic, locally sourced… It can be hard to keep track of what all of those mean!
Here’s a quick breakdown: food that is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers is considered “natural.”
Food that meets specific other criteria, such as being produced without genetic engineering or growth hormones, is considered “organic.” And finally, food that is grown or produced within a certain radius of where it will be consumed is considered “locally sourced.”
There are a lot of benefits to serving organic and/or locally sourced food. For one, it’s better for the environment. Organic farming practices help to preserve soil and water quality, and locally sourced food doesn’t have to travel as far to get to your plate, which means fewer emissions from transportation.
Additionally, organic and locally sourced food is often fresher and tastier than food shipped long distances. And finally, supporting local farmers and businesses helps boost your community’s economy.
Use compostable tableware – or just use your regular flatware
One of the easiest ways to make your toddler’s birthday party eco-friendly is to choose recycled paper products. Paper plates, cups, and napkins can all be made from recycled materials, and they’re just as sturdy as their non-recycled counterparts.
If you can, go for compostable items and check to make sure they’re home compostable (not everything labeled “compostable” can be composted in your backyard, unfortunately.) Using compostable tableware and flatware means you’ll have less mess to bag up – just toss everything into the compost bin.
Decorate with recycled or biodegradable materials
When it comes to decorations, try to use materials that can either be reused or composted. Paper streamers, for example, can be used again next year or for another event.
You could make your decorations out of recycled materials if you feel creative. Tissue paper flowers are always a hit and can be made entirely from recycled material.
Thrift stores are great for buying interesting party decor pieces without buying a newly manufactured item.
Play games that don’t use electricity or batteries
Luckily, there are plenty of fun games that don’t require any power at all! For example, musical chairs is a classic party game that can be adapted for any age group.
Another great option is a scavenger hunt, which can be tailored to be as easy or difficult as you like. If you’re looking for something a little more active, try a game of tag or Simon Says.
Avoid using balloons, which can be harmful to the environment
It’s tempting to want to celebrate every special occasion with balloons, but did you know that they can actually be harmful to the environment?
Once balloons are released, they can end up in our oceans and waterways, where they can be mistaken for food by turtles, birds, and other wildlife. Ingesting balloons can cause these animals to choke or starve to death.
Even deflated balloons can be dangerous and block drainage systems and cause flooding. And when they’re burned, balloons release toxins into the air that can harm both people and the environment
Use soy or beeswax candles instead of traditional birthday cake candles
Most birthday cakes are finished off with a few candles, and while it may seem like a harmless tradition, those candles can do some damage. Traditional birthday candles are made of paraffin wax, a petroleum by-product.
When burned, paraffin wax releases harmful chemicals into the air, including toluene and benzene. These chemicals have been linked to cancer and other respiratory illnesses. Soy and beeswax candles, on the other hand, are much safer for you and the environment.
They burn cleaner than paraffin candles, producing far less soot and toxic fumes. In addition, soy and beeswax candles are renewable resources, whereas paraffin is not.
Serve drinks in reusable cups or bottles
Reusable cups and bottles are a great way to be more sustainable at a birthday party. Not only will you save money on disposable cups and bottles, but you’ll also help reduce waste.
Plus, guests can enjoy their drinks without worrying about disposing of single-use cups and bottles. Here are a few tips for using reusable cups and bottles at your next birthday party:
- Choose reusable cups or bottles that are durable and easy to clean. Stainless steel or glass cups and bottles are a good option.
- Make sure to have enough cups and bottles for all of your guests. Having extras on hand is always a good idea.
- Label the cups and bottles with each guest’s name. This will prevent confusion and make it easy for guests to find their drinks.
- Serve drinks in pitchers or carafes so guests can help themselves. This way, you won’t have to worry about refilling individual cups or bottles.
- Use reusable straws or lids to minimize waste even further. If possible, avoid using disposable straws altogether.
Give out eco-friendly party favors
There are many easy and creative ways to give your guests sustainable gifts they’ll actually want to use. For example, instead of handing out plastic water bottles, fill some reusable metal bottles with filtered water and add a fun label.
You could also give out seeds packets or seed bombs as party favors. These are easy to make yourself – just mix some seeds with some compost and a little bit of clay, shape them into balls, and let them dry.
Your guests can then take them home and plant them in their own gardens. Whatever eco-friendly party favors you choose, your guests are sure to appreciate your efforts to reduce waste and help the environment.
Send digital invitations
Sending invitations by email or text is becoming increasingly popular, and it’s easy to see why. With just a few clicks, you can reach out to all your friends and family members without spending a fortune on stamps and envelopes.
Plus, digital invitations are easy to track – no more lost RSVP cards! And if you need to make any changes to the event details, it’s a breeze to update the invite and resend it.
Ask for donations instead of gifts, or create a gift registry so that the gifts will actually be used
If you’re a parent, you know toddlers can be notoriously picky. They may love a toy one day and ultimately lose interest in it the next. As a result, many parents find themselves stuck with a bunch of unwanted toys that their toddlers have outgrown.
A great way to avoid this problem is to ask for donations instead of gifts. Or, create a gift registry so that your toddler will actually use the gifts. That way, you can be sure that your toddler will get items they will use and enjoy, and you won’t end up with a pile of unused toys.
Buy decor and other party essentials locally when possible (avoid importing)
When planning a party, it’s tempting to run to the nearest big box store and load up on everything you need. However, before you do that, take a moment to consider whether you might be able to find what you’re looking for locally.
Not only is buying local support businesses in your community, but it can also help to reduce your carbon footprint.
For example, if you’re looking for decorations, try checking out your local dollar store or thrift shop first. You might be surprised at what you can find. And if you’re looking for party supplies like plates and cups, try using reusable items instead of disposables.
It might take a bit of work upfront, but it’s better for the environment in the long run. So next time you’re planning a party, think local first. Your wallet and the planet will thank you.
Doing all of the above can make for a sustainable and fun toddler birthday party! Plus, it’s a great way to teach kids about being eco-friendly. What other tips do you have for throwing a sustainable party? Share them with us in the comments below!