Tag Archives | party planning

Spoooooky Disposable Tableware!

Greening celebrations & Halloween is a hot topic this year. One aspect of party planning that many hosts struggle to green is when using disposable tableware, specifically at children’s parties and Halloween. But we’ve made advances in biodegradable and compostable disposable tableware options and it’s never been easier to keep the fun and excitement and  the environmental impact low at these celebrations. Don’t believe me?  Check out the awesome pictures of bagasse plates stamped with beet juice at the bottom of this post.

Halloween parties don’t have to be a wasteful affair – make a goal to host a little or no-waste party. We’ve already talked about Halloween decorating so lets talk tableware. I agree that some of the printed/licensed napkins, plates and cups are adorable for Halloween, but it’s important to green this aspect of party planning. With the proper Eco-friendly tabletop accents**, this is the easiest area to green and guests will love the effect of earth friendly disposable tableware!  Using your own dishware is the best way to booster your green with party planning, but this isn’t always a practical option. We host an annual Halloween party and I know with over 20 kids running through my house, there’s no way I’m giving them my everyday dishes.  Here are some Eco-friendly options for disposable tableware & some spooky facts you’ll want to learn about traditional cups and plates..

Hot Cups:

Bring out the hot chocolate or apple cider, but make sure you’re using hot cups lined with PLA.  Traditional paper hot cups are lined with petroleum-based resin. Ever wondered why you get that nasty after taste after you’ve purchased a coffee or hot drink from a cafeteria or store? This is plastic melting and being absorbed into your body.  Compostable hot cups are a great addition to your next party because the interior resin of the cups is lined with PLA (poly lactic acid) which is derived from renewable resources such as sugarcane and starches (corn).

We all know styrofoam cups (styrofoam anything for that matter) are terrible for the environment. But if we truly understood their destruction many of us, including myself, would stand up and make more noise when we see it being used.  I ran across this description of styrofoam used by the Wonkette talking about the U.S. Capitol bringing styrofoam back into their cafeteria after banning it for 4 years. Sometimes it’s great to have a description that doesn’t sugar coat to stick into our minds if a business or event service needs a reminder about how bad styrofoam is. Quote from Wonkette:

“Foamed polystyrene” is a miraculous invention that manages to be completely awful through every step of its near-eternal “life cycle” — it is manufactured with petroleum that must be imported from Middle East dictatorships, toxic “styrene oligomers” migrate into the food it holds, it’s highly flammable and produces black poisonous smoke, and most of the 25 billion polystyrene cups tossed every year will take more than half a millennium to degrade.

Sometimes it takes shocking statistics to really reinforce that these products should never been used because of the environmental consequences. Let’s also not forget that polystyrene is a strong plastic that is ‘foamed’ into Styrofoam. I sometimes forget that Styrofoam is plastic because of the different texture but it’s polystyrene created from erethylene and benzine that is inject or blow molded. Do you want to pour hot liquid into this soup of plastic materials?

Plates:

Traditional Halloween disposable party plates hmmmmm pick your evil a) licensed paper plates made from virgin trees and inked with toxic dye 2) Styrofoam plates that are devastating to the environment 3) plastic plates that take forever to biodegrade and often end up polluting our forests and water.  Now think about using compostable plates. Not only are they biodegradable, but also compostable as they are made from excess plant materials that otherwise would have gone to waste! The first option for plates is perfect for Halloween, not because they are scary, but fit into the theme of Fall beautifully because palm leaf plates are manufactured from fallen leaves. It is very cool to tell a child that a leaf fell from a tree, was picked up for a villager, cleaned with die, and shaped into a plate. Little children and all party guests will understand this story and love learning how palm plates are made without any disruption to the tree and because they are made without dyes, wax, finishes of any kind ~ they are compostable and a very earth friendly option with party tableware. An other option with biodegradable and compostable plates are those made from bagasse which is a fibrous pulp that is left over after processing sugar cane. A cool story as well because this material would have otherwise been turned into waste and again, no trees are used in the manufacturing of these plates. So although they are stamped ‘tree free’ along the edge, guests may assume they are a paper plate because of the color and texture. Make sure to inform party guests about the bagasse plates so they don’t assume they are made from paper. One way to catch guests attention is to personalize these party plates. I use beet juice to dye the homemade play dough I made my children.  This way I get a brightly colored play dough using vegetable dye rather than brightly colored play dough from using synthetic food coloring. Well why not stamp your bagasse plates with a rubber stamp and beet juice?  You are using a natural dye to make these plates look different that will create some buzz and questions. It’s also super fun for the kids! My niece and I tried this tonight and the results were fantastic. She also loved learning how an organic substance like beet juice should be used to stamp with because you wouldn’t want any other material like traditional ink a guest’s plate that will contain food. The texture of the bagasse plates is great for absorbing the beet juice and also makes for very strong plates.

** Tabletop accents. We’ve decided on a mixture of ways to dress-up our Halloween tabletop for this year’s party. We are painting little pumpkins and gourds from our local patch and making them into ghosts and black cats. We’ve also sprinkled some pine cones and crazy shaped gourds from the patch. Felt appliques that act as reusable confetti are also a great way to punch up a table.

This post is part of the 2011 Greening your Halloween Blog Tour brought to us by Green Planet Parties, Green Halloween, Green Gift Guide, Surf Sweets and A Little Bit of Momsense.

Related Articles:

Halloween…How Will You Green?

 

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Eco-Friendly (er) Kid’s Birthday Party

Well it’s been a busy week here…more so than Christmas.  Why?  It’s been a weekend of Eco-friendly party planning for a 5 year old boy ~ my Angelo.  I won’t go into the intense emotion that I feel when one of my kids gets one year older and I’m just not ready.  Here are some practical emotions I realized while hosting this Eco-friendly, sustainable, birthday party.    

During the preparations for Angelo’s special party, I had a few ‘light bulb moments’ about party give-aways.  I am very sensitive to the plight of boys and what constitutes a ‘cool’ loot bag or party give-away.  You have to be very creative with boys so they aren’t disappointed with a give-away that doesn’t light up, shoot something, or have a super hero on the front of it.  As I geared up for Angelo’s special celebration I couldn’t help but think back to last year, because we were having the same wonderful performer come to the house to keep the kids entertained.  This year it was a clown, last year he came dressed as a magician.  The give-aways last year included magician themed toys: clown nose, funny glasses with big nose, wand, deck of cards, etc.  I started second guessing myself, as this year I selected very sustainable, handcrafted give-aways.  When pulling out party supplies to re-use, I found some leftover items from the give-aways we gave last year.  My boys were so excited to see the clown nose and funny glasses. The pangs of guilt increased….but I learned about trusting your instincts and why teaching your children about sustainability is so important.  Within an hour of these new items coming out, the glasses had broken, the nose was ripped in two and the toy magician wand broke – instantly becoming a choking hazard. 

I suddenly felt silly for doubting myself and even a little bad for giving my guests such cheap items the year before.  What did I do this year?  I purchased cowboy fabric and had the master seamstress extraordinaire from Green Planet Parties create tool belt/craft aprons.  Foot long craft/tool mini aprons with pockets and a loop that held a hammer and paper punch to encourage crafting for both girls and boys attending the party.  Girls love to hammer too…so they received hammers, but their aprons were made with pink flower fabric with striped front pockets.  My sons thought these give-aways were awesome and it’s rekindled the intense pride I feel about the education process the Green Planet Party (GPP) site offers parents about giving more Eco-friendly parties for their children and choosing ‘green’ (er) give-away and gift selections.  Besides for this year’s loot bags, my children’s 2 favorite give-aways from recent parties have been a full camouflage apron for Angelo…he runs for it every time he helps in the kitchen and Francesco loves his stainless steel cup that holds his morning milk.  I can’t remember many other give-aways other than books.

I had further affirmation during the party when Francesco, my very cool 6 year old, noticed the cloth, personalized banner and matching camouflage cloth tablecloth for Angelo and quietly says to me “I want the same thing at MY party!”  This was said with a quiet voice, but a loud exclamation at the end of the statement.  And let me tell you, that boy is not easy to impress!

My guests were also wowed by the cold cups made from corn ~ perfectly sized for small hands and the beautiful palm leaf tableware that still takes my breath away with it’s imperfect, naturally stunning design, produced by mother nature herself. 

I thought Angelo would be too young at 4-5 years old when he decided to have a donation party, where the guests bring a cash donation in lieu of gifts, but after watching his big brother last year, he decided he had to help save the lions.  These cats are on the endangered list and Angelo just adores these beautiful animals.  He proudly counted the donations and set aside the amount for the lions.  He knows when he decides on a special gift, he’s welcome to use his 1/2 from the donations and purchase something sustainable and fun.  When given a choice, kids will surprise you every time.  The gift of education from these greener parties will travel through your group of friends and family….continuing to spread the word about unique and important ways to help the earth.  Now the only thing missing from the GPP site is how a mom comes to terms with her baby growing up.  <sob>

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