Here's how to throw a greener kids party

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK 

The aftermath of a kids party is enough to make an environmentalist weep. From the disposable cups, plates and tablecloths to the loot bags full of plastic toys, the amount of rubbish that's generated can get out of hand. 

But with a bit of forward planning and some creative thinking, your little one's celebration doesn't have to be an eco disaster. Here's how:

The party table

"Your party doesn't have to look boring just because you're using eco-friendly tableware," says Deanna Barber, director of Pop Roc Parties party supplies. "Bring some colour to the table with paper napkins and paper straws. Glass mini milk bottles are a great alternative to plastic cups and look great with colourful paper straws."

There are eco-friendly options for tableware including biodegradable plates, cutlery and snack food cones made from bamboo or poplar wood. Or, she says: "Avoid plastic cutlery by serving party food which can be eaten with little fingers."

Fresh flowers and foliage from the garden beautify any party table, or Barber suggests going through the kids toy box and re using some of their toys and figurines for decorations. 

And instead of a disposable plastic tablecloth use a plain white sheet from the cupboard or length of recyclable brown paper. Let the kids draw on it after they've finished their snacks. 

The decorations

Balloons might be a party go-to but they don't biodegrade and can be dangerous for animal life. Reusable bunting, paper chains or recyclable streamers are a much greener way to prettify the party, or bust out the Christmas tree lights.  

Hiring is also a great way to reduce the waste from a party. Banners, themed decorations and centrepieces can all be hired, as can tableware. 

The food

Processed food is the worst for packaging, so by reducing waste you'll also provide a healthier spread. Homemade party food is the best, but if you don't have the time at least steer clear of anything individually wrapped. 

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If you're having a large party with lots of adults provide marked bins to sort things like recycling wrapping paper, plates and glass bottles. 

The gifts

Gifts are another waste-generator at kids parties, so opt for a no gift policy or ask for experiences rather than things. Many people don't realise that thanks to wrapping paper with shiny coating or glittery decorations is not recyclable. Plain paper or reused paper is a much less wasteful option. 

The goody bags

"Instead of plastic goody bags, use paper or cloth ones and fill them with useful items like mini notepads and pencils," says Barber. She also suggests sending home a slice of cake as the favour - this could be wrapped in a reusable beeswax wrap to spread the message. 

Barber says: "If you can't bear the thought of not sending them off with a toy, then choose one good quality wooden toy rather than a bunch that will break and end up in the bin after a few days.

- Homed