I had the pleasure of attending two baby showers in the last two weeks. I was really excited to celebrate two more lovely little girls coming into the world. And while I had a blast at both, you know what was going thru my mind as each expectant mother unwrapped another fantastic gift? Look at all this trash we are making!!
All the food was made by friends and family, so there were no huge plastic trays involved. Our friend Kim made the most delicious vegan scones and cupcakes (Shown in the photo above. She is an insanely good vegan baker. Go to her website and have your mind blown, www.cestlavegan.com). We used dishes...yes DISHES and real cups. We bought a few biodegradable, recycled plates and some silverware made of corn. But for the most part we just took home the dishes and washed them.
In lieu of balloons or a lot of decorations, we did the old, "clothesline of baby clothes" and potted flowers that all the guests got to bring home with them. I had a fantastic time, surrounded by whom I consider to be the coolest ladies on the face of the planet. And went home feeling so good about my friends, my new baby, and the low-impact our shower had. So why am I sitting around these other showers, devoting half of my brain to obsessing over the trash bags full of paper, plates and forks that will never biodegrade, and the other half of my brain jealous of how cute everything looks?!
So often I feel like this is a dilemma we are faced with when trying to be good to lady earth: Should it be cute, or conscious? I could wrap this gift in the most adorable paper with baby bunnies on it, surround it in a beautiful bow with matching baby bunnies, and place the entire thing in a gift bag with baby bunnies on it, gently cushioned by mounds of tissue paper...covered in baby bunnies. Or I could stick it on the gift table and cover it with my sweater.
The theme of this blog has always been compromise. So here are some ideas to make your parties adorably green!
Always save and re-use gift bags and tissue paper. Wrapping baby gifts in baby blankets turned out to be adorable and you can do it with towels, scarves, etc. I make a homemade reusable wrapping paper out of fabric. Basically, it's just fabric wrapping paper with ribbons attached. Use it forever! Try a reusable shopping bag or left over wall-paper, magazines, newspapers, maps etc. I had a friend once wrap a gift in old headshots. There are "wrap bags" you can use over and over (www.reuseit.com). You can purchase biodegradable seed paper at www.realgoods.com. Your paper will make flowers bloom!
In some cities you can recycle your gift wrap, but the tape must be removed as it is petroleum-based, and basically terrible for the environment.
I'm just going to say it. Let's do some dishes people. Really, let's get zen about it. Use it as a time to meditate and reflect on how great the party was. Or think of it as a way to burn off the calories that you ate. But if you can't be convinced to get dish-pan hands, here are some great disposable products:
Nature Friendly, Solo, Eco Products, Preserve and EATware all make plates, cups and silverware that are either biodegradable, recycled, compostable, or made of sugar.
I'm going to say it again. Let's do some wash people. Cover the tables in REAL tablecloths, and use cloth napkins. This is where I think cute meets conscious head-on. Nothing is lovelier than real tablecloths and napkins. But if you don't want to take the time to get the chocolate out of your great-aunt's lace tablecloth, here are some options:
Seventh Generation, Marcel, and CVS Earth Essentials have either unbleached or recycled disposable paper napkins.
If you can really only manage to do the bare minimum, try this:
Recycle all those plastic cups and plates you are using.
Make sure left-overs go home with people or are put in the fridge so they don't spoil.
Put your used wrapping paper out with the recycling.
And please, please, please, just say no to balloons and those vinyl tablecloths. There is really no redeeming green quality to them.
And let's not forget the power of a great wig...
totally depressing environmental fact:
Plastic cutlery is non-biodegradable, can leach toxic chemicals, and is ubiquitous all over the world. Worldcentric.org estimates 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in just the United States. The vast majority of these are thrown out after just one use.