Seaford's Zero Waste Maman Claire Sumner explains how to hold a plastic free birthday party.
So I did it. I feel really smug about it, I held a (85pe cent-ish) plastic free children's party.
Last weekend was my little boy’s fourth birthday party. I stressed about the food, I was stressed about party games, party bags, decorations…. I was worried that what I wanted to share with everyone wouldn't fulfill expectations because I didn’t want a jot of single-use plastic in all its many guises present.
I stayed true to my ethos; I didn't want to serve excessive amounts of food; I didn't use any single-use anything like party bags, wrapping paper, balloons, plates, cups; I wanted it to be 'old school’ with the games and the food.
It was a great success and what I learnt was I don't need to stress.
The food was my main concern but it was perfect I have to say as literally the only waste created were a few crusts from sandwiches which I could compost. The fillings weren’t sophisticated to adults but the children wolfed the jam, honey, cheese and Marmite sandwiches down.
So here’s how I did it with zero waste and no plastic and a pinch of the 1980s.
Sandwiches. Simple fillings of jam, honey, Marmite and cheese, you can recycle the jars, the lids (plastic with Lush and metal at the tip) I took my own container to buy the cheese. I bought the loaves from my local bakery and used my own produce bag.
Popcorn. Make it yourself. You can buy kernels from health food shops/supermarkets or as I did, loose from a Zero Waste Store like Harriet's of Hove.
Cornflake Cakes. Butter was the only non-recyclable item.
Jelly & ice-cream. Jelly packets can’t be recycled. I will use the ice-cream tub for lunches and; picnics because we eat ice-cream so rarely.
Crisps. Homemade from vegetable peelings.
Birthday cake. Homemade sponge cake. Butter was the only non-recyclable item.
The games were simple, pass-the-parcel wrapped in newspaper you can recycle or use if you have a fire, musical statues went down a storm with no individual prizes for winners just a big round of applause, the party bag was actually part of the pass-the parcel as everyone received a packet of seeds, and everyone who bought my son a gift had thought about the wrapping which meant no sellotape.
In all honesty the best bit for him was blowing the candles out on his birthday cake.
It really was that delightful.
And I think that's a massive learning curve. My son is only four, so to him having lots of friends over to dance with and get loud with was his choice, what he wanted and what made him happy. I was the one stressing I hadn't done enough.
I think children have a hard lesson to learn, because they can be made to feel they need to expect so much.
Pare it down, help them realise they making the effort but with care for the planet doesn't mean zero fun. I borrowed bunting both plastic and cloth, I reused all of the vintage crockery I already had, I gave the children Pyrex glasses for their water or juice drink.
Suffice to say, having a 100 per cent zero waste plastic free party is not totally achievable as I did try. I looked for ways to give seeds that weren't in packets, I tried to find candles that weren';t sold in plastic packets, I needed to buy a two pint bottle of milk, I gave the children apple juice from a large carton so it had a plastic lid, I made crisps in my gas oven which took a while, however, I tried, and I feel great about what I did as it proved a point, you really don't need to reach for plastic packaged items, I was just fortunate the parents who came along loved a drop of Prosecco as glass is infinitely recyclable and the corks I will make into stamps for next years party.