☰ How to Host an Eco Friendly Party

How to Host an Eco Friendly Party

Posted on: January 24th 2020

How to Host an Eco Friendly Party

Birthday parties are a lovely way to celebrate your child’s birthday milestones, but they can bring with them lots of environmental waste. We have put together some top tips on how to approach parties to reduce their environmental impact.  

The invites:

It’s tempting to send glossy, sometimes glittery, invite cards but these are often not recyclable, contain micro-plastic glitter and come wrapped in plastic which isn’t recyclable either. How about inviting classmates via WhatsApp or party invite apps like Paperless Post or Evite or Greenvelope? As part of the invite, how about suggesting a ‘no plastic’ theme? (more on this below) 

The food:

Try to avoid disposable plates and cups. Can you bring reusable crockery from home or borrow from a friend? The venue may also have plates you can use. Try to avoid bottled drinks. Can children bring their own water-bottles? You could even consider hiring partyware and decorations - for example, www.makeitpop.shop

The best way to reduce the carbon footprint of the food is to buy local food and fruit that’s local and in season so it hasn’t been flown in or grown under lights. Try to avoid individually wrapped food like individual packs of sweets – bigger bags use less plastic per portion. Home-made cakes and biscuits almost always have a lower carbon footprint because they are less processed and less packaged.  

Only open food and put it out as needed rather than all at once – this reduces waste and means the unused food will last longer. Have a plan for left-over food – e.g., for lunchboxes for the next few days, or doggie bags for party guests.  

Rubbish and recycling:

Talk to the venue about their recycling streams and help maximise recycling of the party waste by bringing separate, clearly labeled bins for recyclable vs food waste vs unrecyclable rubbish. You can get the children to make fun picture labels to show what goes in each bin. Enlist other parents at the party in cleaning up at the end so you don’t have to cut corners on recycling if you’re under time pressure to get out of the venue quickly.


Avoid balloons and plastic streamers etc, particularly numbered ones (e.g., ‘Happy 7th birthday) as you’ll only use these once. Choose (or borrow) generic paper, card or fabric ‘Happy Birthday’ banners (without the age on it) that you can use again or share with other parents. Choose or make paper chains or tissue paper flowers you can keep, recycle, or give the kids to decorate their bedrooms. Use linen tablecloths and napkins rather than disposables (you can often pick these up cheaply in a charity shop) or borrow from and share with friends. 

You can also decorate with mini plants or flowers (but only use local wildflowers as cut stems are often flown in and have a high carbon footprint) – and these can be given away at the end of the party, perhaps instead of party bags (e.g., a few local wildflowers in a milk bottle, a small cactus in a mini plant-pot)

The presents:

Party guests are incredibly generous but it’s worth having a think about whether you really want your child to receive quite so many presents and being upfront about it if you don’t. If you do, consider suggesting eco friendly gifts like clubbing together for a voucher for an experience like a trip to the cinema / zoo / a show, or adopting an animal via WWF. Perhaps for parties for multiple children, you could suggest which parents buy for which children. Finally, books are a low(er) carbon footprint gift than most plastic toys and can be shared with friends once they’ve been read.  

If you’re a guest going to a party, do ask the parents beforehand what they would like as it’s far better to get something the child really wants and doesn’t already have. Try to avoid Sellotape and wrap presents in brown paper (recyclable) or old magazines and use string or ribbon that can be re-used. Collect gift bags that you receive and reuse these. You can make your own gift tags using recycled birthday cards and string. Or, if you really must wrap, try to find eco-friendly wrapping paper.

The party bags:

Party bags seem to be in vogue but produce a huge amount of waste (and cost). What about returning to the days of old and just giving guests a slice of cake to take home wrapped in a napkin? If you do want party bags, consider: Paper bags, or bags made from old wrapping paper / magazines etc (fun to make with the children). Avoid bagged sweets and plastic trinkets as these are sadly often just used once and the plastic discarded. Consider more eco friendly gifts like popping corn in paper bags, seedlings, bamboo straws, eco-friendly bath-bombs or soaps (e.g., Lush has a range that comes without packaging and doesn’t contain any nasties) or small books.

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