My Second ZeroWaste Birthday Party
This ^^^ is ALL of the trash created from my son's 9th Birthday Party.
I'm pretty proud of myself for a few reasons: obviously for creating as little waste as possible, for sharing the ideas and spreading the zero-waste inspiration to friends and onlookers (we had 12 friends attend,) and also for hosting a fun party that my son enjoyed just the same as he would have if I had purchased that plastic cutlery...
A goal of zero-waste is a tough one here in Canada. Like many other moms, I dream of themed parties that make my kids eyes go wide with delight when they see the setup. I pin ideas on Pinterest, I scroll through Amazon and online party stores, and I plan my baking in advance. One year, for my daughter, I put up a tent in our backyard and hung rainbow streamers and balloons all over it... it was beautiful, it made for some memorable pictures, and then it was garbage. Along with the gift wrap, the plates, the cutlery, the napkins, and yeah, eventually some of the gifts...
So, here's how my transition into zero waste kids party planning is going... round 2:
When I saw that the Scotiabank Theatre in Bayers Lake offered Xbox parties I knew that this would be the winner. My husband and son share a love of gaming, and it took no convincing - we had the party in our home last year, and there was a lot of overwhelm and tears on my son's part so it had to be something out of the home. I went through the steps to price it out online and discovered that the only food that would be "allowed" was the candy and pop offered by the theatre (at an additional cost, of course,) with the exception of the cake which I could bring. I finished the booking anyway, left the food choices blank and added in the comment section that I would prefer to bring my own food as I would be doing this party with a goal of zero-waste.
To my delight, this was met with an enthusiastic "NO PROBLEM" - so the planning continued.
For the entire 2 hours, we had a dedicated party attendant - Devon (ask for him if you go here!) Devon was ON. THE. BALL. He read the note about the goal of zero waste and had jugs of water and bowls of popcorn ready to go... no waste from him or the theatre was even offered. He didn't even bring a garbage can into the theatre which I loved. I felt like he really got it, you know?!
I was very impressed and very grateful for the whole experience. It was nice to not feel like the "crazy western-world hating hippie" for asking for less waste.
I had to let go of the idea that I needed to decorate with all of the Fortnite themed garbage to make the party grand. For the past few gatherings I've simply dug out the "celebration bunting" that I put up for every occasion, but I didn't even bother with that.
I did, however, rely on some of the food choices to showcase the Fortnite theme (we also played Fortnite - so that helped, too.) We had blue "chug jugs" which was Mio Blueberry Lemonade that I premixed in a dozen 250ml mason jars - it was gross, but the kids liked it and it had to be blue, so there you go. After the juice, we refilled with the water provided. The tiny Mio squirt bottle is recyclable, so I'll add it to the blue bag. I looked for the blue juice crystals at the bulk barn to have no waste at all, but apparently, this is now just a summer product.
We also had "boogie bombs" a.k.a skittles in tiny mason jars. I got the skittles in my canvas bag, and just filled up the jars.
And the third decoration-out-of-food were the little gummy TNT bundles. Red gummies, also from the bulk barn, wrapped in a piece of paper that I wrote TNT on with a sharpie... festive. ;)
Taa-daa edible decorations! (Truth bomb - the Rice Krispy squares were supposed to be Fortnite medic packs, but I didn't have the moxey to add the red fondant and cross... so, it was an opportunity to use one's imagination.)
The Other Food:
The cake was a DQ ice cream cake, and I didn't have the time to figure out a case alternative, and I didn't want to purchase a Wilton case, so I decided that the case would be the garbage goal. Yes, that's Marshmello, yes, he's our hero these days. Not bad for a freehand project on a Friday night. I love the beeswax candles that I picked up at the Farmers Market - this is their 3rd "make-a-wish" so far.
The popcorn was provided by the theatre, without the bag - they had the bowl waiting for me when we arrived.
I bought a bag of veggie straws as a gluten-free alternative to some of the other "junk." Other than the cake container, this bag is the largest single piece of waste.
I picked my veggies up at the Humble Hippie in Hammonds Plains as they offer their veggies with a plastic-free option, rainbow carrots! Mmm. What I couldn't find at the Humble Hippie I got at Superstore - I picked through the pile of plastic-wrapped cukes to find den Haans as they are from the valley, and are also friends of ours. I've made my peace with that bit of plastic as supporting local is a huge value I hold. Choices, friends... make the right one for you!
The fruit... deep breath... everyone loves berries... me too. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't push a few clamshells full of strawberries and blueberries around in my shopping cart for a while. In the end, I put them back and chose a pineapple, a cantaloupe, kiwis, pears, and apples.
I washed and cut the veggies myself. No packaging other than the little stickers. No one complained.
The main focus was the Xbox. But, only 2-4 could play at a time, so I worried that there would be 10 other kids just hanging around waiting for their turn... bored. So, I packed a few of our favourite family games and brought them along. They were played with a little bit, but mostly the kids took advantage of the excitement of having the entire theatre to themselves. Hide & Seek. Tag. Some sort of keep-away that had to be ended by an adult. They had fun without my direction, and they took their turns when they wanted them for the most part. I'd say that 8 kids would be a good sweet spot though - more than 12 would have been too many.
It was a High Five party - we asked for $5 instead of a gift for those who wanted to bring a gift. Cash was great, but the handmade and recycled cards were even better! A few kids simply brought a $5 bill... no card. This was also great.
Here are some of the creative and thoughtful cards we will be saving:
The "Thank You's:"
To say that I am not a fan of treat bags would be an immense understatement. As a person who is trying to thwart pile up in the house and landfill, but who would also hate to come off as ungrateful or rude, the treat bags my kids get at parties are a struggle for me. Not to mention the actual physical struggle that would come with asking my kids to leave without their coveted treat bags, HA!
This year I chose the arcade cards from the theatre. Yes, plastic - but they reuse and reload them at the theatre. This I can live with. I put $5 worth of gameplay on each card and set them all free. I even had a few extra for any siblings that arrived at pick up, and also for the dads...
I chose not to purchase disposable dishes, cutlery, cups, and napkins. They all came from home.
I brought my nice clean napkins with hesitation - I wanted them to stay nice and clean, right?! Guess what... 9-year-olds have no use for napkins... I packed them back up at the end of the party still folded.
The dishes are from our camping stash and were actually the dishes that my folks had when we camped during my childhood... *cough* 30+ years ago *cough*. Same with the cutlery.
As the dishes, mason jars and forks were used, I piled them back into my reusable bag to go home for washing, and then to be packed back up for the summer months. A side benefit, digging around in the camping gear the night before the party brought great camping memories back from years past, and also got us thinking about the places we plan to camp this summer! Can't wait!
So, in the dishwasher it all goes... less than 1 extra load.
While paying for the party, I thanked Devon for everything. Then he thanked me for asking for the zero-waste party - he said it got him thinking.
How friggin rewarding is that?!
All I had to do was ASK - if you want zero waste, ask for it. Just because the website says you have to get pop and candy doesn't mean it's true.
Ask for zero-waste. From the venue, from the guests, from the providers, from yourself. It's so very worth it. <3