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How to Prepare A Sustainable Birthday Party

Think back to the last birthday parties held for your kids. Remember how many plastic cups, cutlery, and mounds of packaged waste were thrown away?. We can’t recycle plastic-coated paper plates with those cute designs. There were too many times we didn’t wash plastic cutlery or glasses before putting them into the recycle bin. Definitely not a sustainable birthday party.

I love a good party and who doesn’t want to throw them at the park, a beach or the swimming pool! So, if you’re like me and you think it’s easier to buy the single-use kind then you’re like most people! But since generations have gone with this same approach it’s time to make a change.


About one month before the date of my son’s fifth birthday. I decided to look at ways to make a sustainable birthday party. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to single-use cups, plates, and cutlery.

I had no trouble finding the perfect ice cream cone-shaped glasses. These are reusable for the next year and imagine the colors that pop with the different flavors like grape, or orange.

The dollar store had sets of four glasses for $4.00, I purchased 16 glasses and paid…. $16! Think that’s expensive? You can buy Plastic reusable cups on Amazon for the same price!

There are two problems buying reusable plastic cups.

Firstly, the cartoon birthday cups available at most birthday parties become outdated the following year. In fact, the idea of reusing the same cup to a kid who believes it’s uncool to reuse Paw Patrol won’t happen!

Secondly, buying plastic is another donation towards the world’s problem in plastic pollution. The great thing about glass is it’s neutral, no conversation needed! Glass disintegrates by wind, water or fire and eventually disappear like sand.

I purchased mason jars for the adults, unthreaded the lid and set them up in three neat rows. These jars can also be bought at the store for $1.00 each and I have a plan to reuse them! I am new at this sustainable game and have realized my approach to shopping has to change.

So, I plan to take the 24 jars I purchased for my son’s birthday and bring them to the store. Instead of buying plastic prepackaged food I will shop in the bulk section with my own containers.


I looked online for biodegradable plates. There are some great options in the flatware department. I decided to go with the Wheat straw version since the production doesn’t use trees and it’s compostable. No dishes, no fuss and a great thing for the environment!

But, one day while on Twitter I decided to pat myself on the back. A fellow twitterer had tweeted.

“When the US was attacked during the second world war no one asked, Can we afford to fight the war? It was an existential matter. We could not afford not to fight it. The same goes for the climate crisis.”

I responded, Start changing daily habits first before we’re launched into a full-scale crisis. …#onegooddeedaday . I just bought disposable biodegradable plates from amazon. (first time ever).

I soon realized the respondee didn’t totally agree with my statement! She replied,

Yes, continue changing daily habits, as I and many others have been doing for years: buying as little as possible, not flying, thermostat down in winter, and in summer, avoid disposable versions of anything,….etc.

And we already are in a crisis.

It was her opinion I shouldn’t use single-use plates! I thought to myself, she didn’t have the whole story. I’m convinced she would feel different if she knew it was a picnic! There are definitely different levels of the spectrum in environmental friendliness. Well, how can I make a picnic in the park even better? She had made a good point.


I still hadn’t figured out what to do with the cutlery situation. I can choose friendly single-use options like wheatgrass, avocado seed, or corn starch. Most picnics use plastics so this is better, right? However, after second thought, maybe not. It turns out buying single-use options costs more than renting cutlery at the local event equipment store! I don’t worry about cleaning them, I don’t throw them away, and it’s reused again and again. For $3.50 a dozen I could rent them for less than what it would cost to buy them!


Other elements at a Birthday party, of course, include the decorations! Table decorations don’t have to be plastic or glass. I decided to go with fruit! Its summertime and fruits are easy to come by. Cherries, strawberries, watermelon, and peaches are in season here in British Columbia. I used straw around the fruit and sprinkled edible stars on the table. The kids loved to eat them. They love to eat sprinkles!

It takes some thought when planning a child’s sustainable birthday party. Even though I’d prepared many elements of the birthday party the gifts given to my son had so much plastic and styrofoam. As a Mother, I wouldn’t deprive him of having toys. I’m sure you feel the same way! I’m hoping next year an idea will come up that would give him the joy of opening a package, not at the expense of the environment!