While I was typing up that post, I thought about all the things that we do to try to keep the festivities eco-friendly. Mind you, in all things green, I think we've plateaued at a nice medium kelly green; not mint green (not at all eco-friendly) but not even bordering on dark moss (practically living in the woods). It's a place we're comfortable being. Our efforts are still there and have become a habitual part of our lives, but we don't sweat it if we have to use a paper towel once in awhile. Y'know?
So, that said, I thought I'd share a few of the *simple* tricks and tools we use to keep a birthday shindig more about the monkey and less about the ozone.
- NO BALLOONS ALLOWED. Again, I don't expect everyone to follow this rule, but as far as my decorating goes...nada. Hence the poufs. Those things are SO scary to me. I don't want them near my kid (choking hazard) or in the landfill (SO VERY BAD for animals, you guys!!!). If someone gifts one (usually the Mylar kind in the shape of something), it's fine, but I am a hawk about watching Hadley with it. Plus, I take it out ONLY when I can watch him, then put it in MY bedroom closet. Seriously. It's Fort Knox up in here.
- Use whatchya got. This goes hand-in-hand with reusing decorations. With the ducky theme this year, we've got a handful of rubber duckies (although I'll probably have to get a handful more, admittedly) at home to use for decoration. I also have a mini red wagon (which Hadley, like, never fit in) that would be awesomesauce on a table with some hay or raffia in it. Oh, and I'll peruse his toys to see if anything else goes with the theme.
- Invites. Okay, this is a tricky one. If your family's a super hip one full of folks who are tech-savvy, good for you. No, really, that's awesome! But my family has some, shall we say, old school folks (again, not a bad thing!) who don't spend much time perusing the ol' interwebs. Thus, I make invitations. How do I keep it relatively low waste? I invite fewer people. Tricky of me, huh? Honestly, less people also equals less waste; makes sense, huh? Oh, and believe me, we DO invite the folks who mean the most to us, so no one's missing out here. We're just not inviting everyone we ever met. We didn't do it for our wedding, we're not doing it for our son's second birthday party. ;-)
- Cups and flatware and plates, oh my! Some folks might suggest to use reusable (or "real") plates/silverware/glasses/etc. Believe me, it crossed my mind last year, but I also fall victim of the a) that's gonna take awhile to clean and b) people are raising an eyebrow at me...AGAIN complexes. Instead, I only get the items that I know we'll need (no bowls if there's nothing soup-like or ice creamy), and I try my best to get the compostable stuff. Of course, last year I only found a couple of compostable kinds of flatware, so had to supplement with other plastic ones (grr), so this year will probably consist of using all that up. Again...don't sweat the small stuff, just do your best. Just know that there are more eco-friendly options out there.
- Simplify your theme. You could also avoid a theme altogether, but I'm a nut for a good theme. Goodness knows how long I can get away with one! So, this year's ducky theme will lead into an awesome homemade Sesame Street theme next year (reusing the colorful decorations, duckies, and Hadley's plush toys instead of buying a bunch of trademarked stuff). Simple is best.
- Actually, simplify, in general. This isn't one that we've succeeded with as far as friends and family purchasing gifts entails. As Hadman gets bigger, we'll talk with him about what he really wants and other ways we could ask people to spend their money in honor of his birthday, but at this age I don't want it to seem forced. So, we accept graciously (and sometimes have to return doubles or the things we simply haven't the space for). However, Dave and I try to keep it minimal and put tons of thought into what he's getting based on his interests and what concepts we'd like for him to learn.
So, here were just a few easy ideas to hopefully help you consider the environment whilst partying it up. There are already a few great resources on the web (like this and this and this) to help you in this arena, so I'm clearly not reinventing the wheel here. Just wanted to let you know what I prioritize in my mind so I'm not ultimately overwhelmed by all the craziness that birthday planning could possibly turn into.