Plastic Free Party Bags
Although my children are older now, I can still recall the stress of providing party bags at each birthday celebration and that concern that the party guests won'r really appreciate the contents anyway. Now, in this more environmentally conscious society, we’re also aware of just how much unnecessary waste and plastic they generate.
Party bags are frequently filled with single use items because they are cheap, quick to buy and fulfil the stigma that ‘this is what a party bag should be’. But it doesn’t have to be that way?
Shiny plastic medals, balloons,brightly coloured figurines, and tacky bangles provide 10 minutes of joy but take hundreds of years to biodegrade. But we can avoid this by choosing some simple sustainable alternatives. It’s also worth remembering that the quality and meaning of goods is more important than the quantity.
So here are a few ideas for a more sustainable gift bag for your little guests:
1. Don’t Offer Party Bags
It may seem a drastic solution but can you think of a way around it? For example, if your child’s birthday is in March/April, you could offer Easter Eggs instead. Or give each child a book based on the theme of the party? The Book People often have bulk packs on sale and very little cost. With a Little Popstars Recording Party, guests come home with a CD of the song they have recorded so there's no need for an additional party gift.
2. The Bag Itself
For the goody bags themselves, source paper ones, preferably from recycled paper. Eco Maniax is a new Waste Free shop in Stourbridge’s Ryemarket. They sell recyclable wrapping paper and tape. You could use the type of paper bag that is sold as a takeaway lunch bag. Rope your children in with help decorating the paper bags. Potato prints are nice and easy!
3. Sweet Treats
How about filling the bags with handmade cookies, or cupcakes, or make your own pick ‘n’ mix bags? Why not bake something at home and serve it separately to the bag? Or wrap it up in compostable paper to take away. Take a visit to your local Zero Waste shope (Eco Maniax in Stourbridge or try Eat.Love.Yoga in Kidderminster) and get them to fill up a reusable jar or container with treats. You could buy a ‘cake mix’ to give away. This way the fun continues after the party is finished and provides a nice treat. Winner all round!
Little packets of sunflower seeds or herbs are a nice alternative to plastic tat. Children love the idea of growing something, and it's a nice activity that parent and child can do together, long after the party has finished. You can pick up packets of seeds from a local garden centre like Webbs. Kinver based, Winnie and Olive shop also stock a range of eco-friendly products, likeSeedballs; little tins of wild flowers which make lovely gifts.
5. Encourage Creativity
Never underestimate a child’s creativity. Children have wild imaginations. So don’t feel that you have to fill the bag with a multitude of toys that they will quickly get bored of. With some finger puppets, a notepad, a paper mask, and a set of colouring pencils a child can create an endless amount of entertaining colourful stories. They don’t always need toys to be entertained. Just give them the inspiration for their minds to wonder free.
If you are still struggling to think of some simple low cost sustainable party bag alternatives why not start with some of these ideas:
- Paper Shadow Puppets
- Decorate your own paper mask
- Fabric hair accessories
- Finger puppets
- Colouring books
- Colouring Pencils (NOT pens)
- Paper of fabric bunting
- Block of soap
- Plastic free lip balm (from local supplier 'From Bee to You')
- Wooden table top spinners, Yo-yos, or cars
- Plant seeds
- Pre-made Cake Mix
- Tinned Lip balm
- Biodegradable glitter
- Small Book i.e. joke book
- Paper Hats
- Scavenger Hunt
- Make your own magic wand (from a stick)
- Wooden/ metal keyrings
- Printed Picture from the day
- Biodegradable confetti
- Popping Corn
- Fun Socks
So at your next party, instead of filling a goody bag with plastic ‘stuff’ that breaks, spills and gets thrown away after minutes of use. Why not try filling your bag with guilt free sustainable options worth remembering.
Thank you to Transition Stourbridge who worked with me on this feature: "We care about our planet, our environment and our community. We are part of a world-wide “Transition Town” movement which started as a community-led response to climate change, inequality, shrinking supplies of cheap energy (peak oil). natural resource depletion and economic instability. This process, called ‘Transition’ aims to create stronger, happier communities."
If you have got ideas for sustainable party bags, I'd love to hear them! Email me and I'll add them to the list.
Editor of Raring2go! Kidderminster & Stourbridge since 2008. Local font of knowledge. Mother of two and wife of one.