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How to cut out plastics from kids' parties

By Heather Mollins 1 min read

The use of plastic is everywhere and feels unavoidable but is it? Here are five simple ideas to cut plastics from parties.

I recently left a two-year-old birthday party in shock. As I looked around the room, all I could see were mountains of plastic used to create a bright, colourful and fun party for the toddler and his friends. The irony of the situation was not lost on me. Here were two loving parents creating happy memories for their child’s second birthday when in reality, cutting out the plastic balloons, straws, plates and toy prizes will help their son have a brighter future.

Ocean Protect is a company whose mission it is to stop the flow of pollution—including plastic—to our waterways. According to them, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050 if we continue down the path we’re currently soaring down. This is bad news for our kids: half the oxygen we breathe comes from the ocean and it's a major source of food for the world’s population.

On a practical level, there are so many exciting ways to cut plastics from parties. I’ve done some research for my son’s own pending celebration and here are five simple ideas:

1. Serving up

Switching from plastic to paper disposable plates and cutlery seems easy but if they’ve got cream and cake stuck to them, they can’t be recycled. Nor can styrofoam and bottle caps (who knew?). So, opt for finger food on platters that doesn’t require a plate or invest in some bamboo plates.

2. Sip it

Kids love animals and they’ll get onboard with banning plastic straws once they realise how bad they are for critters that call the ocean home. Pop a paper straw inside mini glass milk bottles to create a novel idea for juice, ice tea or water.

3. Decorations

Turtles mistake discarded balloons as jellyfish, digesting them and causing them to become very unwell. So please, I beg you, ditch the balloons for other bright and fun decorations. Have a "crafternoon" and get the kids involved in making bunting, signs, garland and more (head to Pinterest for ideas!).

4. Games and prizes

We all have memories of Pass the Parcel and Pin the Tail on the Donkey! Keep these classic games but change up the prizes from plastic trinkets to toys made of wood or paper. Aldi often have wooden toys in their weekly sales. I also found these skipping ropes, train sets and puzzles all under 10 bucks each.

5. Gifts

Don’t be shy. Speak up and request plastic-free gifts like books or even something pre-loved to prevent it heading to landfill. Experience-based gifts or contributions towards an experience are also great options. My kids love going to the zoo and our local go-kart race track. Older kids might get a kick out of some movie tickets.

Heather Mollins is the managing director of Seven Communications, a communications agency based in Sydney.