Did you know that plastic never fully disappears? This means that the plastic tableware and decorations at your party will still exist when your child is a grown adult.

When I started thinking of plastic in those terms, it made me far more conscious of every piece that we use. Not only do we want to leave our planet in a better place for our children but planning a plastic-free ‘green’ party also sets a good example of what it means to be a good steward.

So, what are some easy ways to plan a plastic-free party?

Reusable tableware

Clark Park Party Box is a neighborhood initiative where you can borrow reusable plates, cutlery and cups for FREE! It’s very easy to use (and easily replicable if you want to start one for your own block):

  1. Book your box at: https://clarkparkpartybox.wordpress.com/
  2. Pick up near Woodland and 10th near East Van
  3. Host an awesome event without single-use dishes!
  4. Wash the dishes in the dishwasher
  5. Return the box

Local Buy Nothing Groups

The Buy Nothing Project has spurred a movement of groups of like-minded neighbours who offer each other a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude.

Post anything you’d like to give away, lend or share in a Buy Nothing community group. Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow.

The Cedar Cottage/Trout Lake Buy Nothing, like many local Buy Nothings, is a closed Facebook group so you’ll need a Facebook account to join.

It may take a little practice to figure it out at first (be sure to read the group’s guidelines) but once you do, it’s a great way to share.  How better to pass on items that you are done with and also acquire new items than hyperlocally?

For example, I put a ISO (In Search Of) post in the group for party decor. Neighbours post what they have available to keep or borrow and I coordinate with them directly for pick up/ drop off. In response, a neighbour gave us an entire unicorn-themed party box, which I then passed on through the Buy Nothing Group after our party.

Nix the goody bags

Parents everywhere should vow to stop filling little plastic bags with dollar store toys that break within days.

This is not to say you can’t send guests home with a small token. Use paper bags or a reusable bag/lunch container if you are going to have goody bags or consider a small paperback book or gift certificate for a treat at a local store.

Make recycling easy

A true zero waste party would mean no garbage — everything would be recycled. Perhaps “low waste” would be more easily attainable target than zero (at first, anyway; it becomes easier with practice!).

I recently hosted an outdoor birthday party where snacks were in individual packages. I left out four clearly labeled bins: cans, plastic, green bin and garbage.

To my surprise, guests were happy to sort their waste and, at the end of the party, the garbage bag was the smallest of all bins. It made me realize that if you make it easy for people to recycle they are more than happy to do it.

For even more fun, encourage and engage kids to do the sorting — make it a game to earn a prize!

Sadly, flexible plastic packaging like chip bags are not accepted in our home recycling bins. However, you can bring it to a local recycling depot (click to find yours) or to retail stores that accept it.

For example, London Drugs collects all sorts of recyclable items at the front of their stores. The closest recycling centre to Trout Lake is Vancouver Zero Waste Centre: 8588 Yukon Street. 

If you want to take it even a step further, encourage guests to bring their own cup/bottle. Starting party guests with this habit young will get them used to always bringing their own reusables to events.

At the end of the day, children don’t need much to have a good time!I realized that some of the fancy details that parents stress about (like mismatched plates) often don’t matter to a child. As long as there is cake, kids seem to be happy!