Frugi sells organic cotton party dresses
These green ideas for children’s parties prove that you don’t have to be a party pooper, just to throw a less polluting party for little ones. All children love a party, and there are plenty of alternatives to releasing balloons and letting McDonald’s fill them up with junk
Did you know that the average birthday party for a child now costs £300, with some parents spending £800? Not like the old days of homemade cake, musical chairs and ‘pass the parcel’.
Frugi sells organic cotton party dresses
- Consider a zero waste picnic.
- Forget the plastic and invest in some reusable cutlery which is made from biodegradable materials like bamboo or corn.
- Violet Pickles & Alice Palace sells recycled party invites
- Little Otter Party Supplies sells pre-filled party bags with plastic-free goodies. Think colouring pencils, wooden ladybird keyrings and wildflower seed packets to save the bees (see make your garden safe for pets, to avoid toxic plants near animal friends).
- Hire a compassionate clown. Some do use balloons (so ask them not to). But these trained actors offer oodles of fun, with no live animals.
- Expert advice is to not fly kites, as string can choke or strangle birds in the air. If you use them, choose biodegradable kites (slightly less dangerous) and avoid at dawn and dusk, when birds are flying.
Forget balloons (harmful to wildlife) and use pretty bunting instead. If you use balloons, use indoors or tie securely with raffia/jute and dispose of responsibly (don’t leave string/ribbon in garden, as birds take it back to nests, who then choke or strangle). After use, deflate balloons slowly with scissors (near the knot) and bin securely (these and bouncy balls are also choking hazards).
Give Ronald a Miss
Why not go back to your own childhood and do what all the kids love: put on a fun kids’ CD, and play musical chairs? We’ve all heard that in ‘normal life’, parents often take their children to have a party at McDonald’s. Due to recent criticism, McDonald’s has now committed to removing hard plastic toys from their stores, though you could be more ambitious and be like Tavistock (the town that saw off McDonald’s).
The website states that if you hire McDonald’s for a party for up to 10 children, they get 10 Happy Meals (a main of burger or nuggets, a side of French fries, salad or apple slices – you can guess which one they’ll choose! – and a drink). Obviously a children’s party is not about eating muesli, but there are better options out there. The firm then include goodie bags for each child, invites, placemats, party hats, a birthday cake with candles, ice cream and a special gift for the Birthday Child from Ronald McDonald (a US actor who left due to being unhappy about promoting ‘happy cows’ and is now a vegetarian campaigner)
The corporate branding is just as disturbing. There is something almost North Korean about it: everyone who has a birthday always has to go to the same place owned by the same brand, where the same ‘man’ celebrates your birthday. It’s all a bit surreal and creepy. And if there is an allergic or vegan child who attends, he or she can’t ‘join the party’ without forgoing food (as you’re not allowed to bring anything extra). And if you do eat it, you must sign a Release of Harm form so if a child chokes, it’s not their fault.
On the other hand, the ‘shaming’ of parents who use the brand is just as bad. Obviously one reason they are used is because McDonald’s makes huge profits, so it’s a more affordable option than hiring your own community centre and buying everything separately.
A Bowl of Fruity Vegan Jelly
Fruit jelly can be made with agar-agar, a seaweed-thickening agent found in health stores and some groceries. This is better than gelatine, which is made from animal bones. Look in stores for Just Wholefoods organic jelly mix, in four fruity flavours.
Hartley is the best-selling brand of jelly, but a quick look at the plastic packaging ingredients shows that the main ingredients for the strawberry jelly are pork gelatine, gluctose-fructose syrup (not good), sugar, and carmine (a red colour from dead insects). Strawberry is not even an ingredient. Avoid blancmange (milk jelly), as it’s nearly always made with gelatine.
Biodegradable alternatives to plastic plates are ideal for when you are throwing a party or having any kind of do that involves catering (say a wedding or veggie barbeque). Conventional plastic plates are wasteful and expensive and never biodegrade. This means that if littered, they break into microplastics and cause harm to the planet and land and ocean creatures, which accidentally ingest tiny pieces of plastic. These plates are very sturdy and whether for single-use or a few uses, safely biodegrade after use. Some can go in the compost bin, others you simply bin where they will break down in commercial composting systems.
There’s nothing that screams ‘birthday party!’ than a summer berry trifle. Although popular around the world, trifle is mostly English, and these recipes try to replicate childhood memories of Birds’ Trifle (packed with rubbish). These trifles use fresh fruits, optional booze, sponge fingers, all coated in a cream whipped topping, with hundreds of thousands. Obviously leave the booze out for children, but other than that, go for it!