How To Hold Plastic Free Parties

by Gabriella Ghelani

We all enjoy get togethers with friends and family, especially when the weather is nicer. Celebrating large occasions conjures images of balloons, confetti and cute trinkets for guests - but what if you could make your parties engaging and great for the planet? 

Here are our top tips for celebrating without all the plastic (that usually ends up straight in the bin) leftovers…


DECORATIONS

There are two types of balloons which are commonly used at parties, mylar and latex. Neither are particularly eco-friendly as both contribute to ocean pollution and can be harmful to marine life. 

Mylar balloons are made of synthetic nylon with metallic coating and are fully non-biodegradable. These are the shiny foil looking balloons you receive at special occasions with writing on, or the number balloons for big number celebrations. The literal worst kind. 

Many people think that latex balloons are made with natural rubber and are therefore biodegradable. This simply isn’t true. Although natural latex is biodegradable, the processed latex in balloons is covered in preservatives and plasticizers, causing it not to be 100% eco-friendly. It can take anywhere from six months to four years for a latex balloon to degrade, and even longer for a mylar balloon.

“This gives them plenty of time to harm our marine life before they finally break down. Deflated balloons are frequently ingested by animals, causing intestinal problems, and balloon ribbons are responsible for animal entanglement and strangulation.” - Yachts4Fun

So what can we exchange these for?  

  • Cloth or paper bunting
  • Paper garlands/pompoms
  • Wildflower Seed confetti
  • Hire a neon light or light sign for the day so it can be reused over and over

Our best advice is to invest in pieces you love and will want to reuse over and over again. Pick biodegradable cotton/cloth or paper or wood.


FOOD

Picking up party food is normally pizza, cakes, sugary goodies and quick freezer food while the alcohol chills in the fridge or you’ve got kids running riot!

Here are some ideas for snacks without the plastic waste…

  • Crisps: Two Farmers - these come in fully compostable packaging
  • Dips in glass e.g. Tesco own salsa
  • Potato salad - switch to Vegan mayo for a fully Vegan and plastic free version - why not grow your own chives for an extra kick of flavour?
  • Meat - take your Tupperware to the butchers and ask for your meat to go!
  • Vegan options in cardboard - i.e. Linda McCartney sausages
  • Rolls - head to your local bakery rather than opting for store bought, plastic wrapped rolls
  • Baked goods - support a small local business or microbakery for all your sweet treats
  • Homemade ice lollies - these can easily be made using fruit juice or even alcohol!
  • Popcorn from bulk store - we buy all our popping kernels at a bulk store then pop on the hob
  • BBQ corn on the cob/veggie skewers - look for loose veg at your grocers or at your supermarket for veggie BBQ options
  • Homemade hummus + veggie dippers - check out our fave homemade hummus recipe here 

GOODIE-BAGS

My childhood is riddled with memories of plastic party bags filled with plastic toys and other bits of single-use items. At the time they were the highlight of the party but now I can’t even remember what was in them or what happened to all those small plastic games. 

That doesn’t mean party bags or favours should be avoided all together. Items such as...

  • Seedball tins (adults or kids)
  • Recycled paper pencils (adults or kids)
  • Wooden or paper toys (kids)
  • Eco crayon set (kids)
  • Homemade playdough (kids)
  • Small cork-stopped jar of bath salts (adults)
  • Shampoo/Soap bar samples (adults)
  • Plants/Succulent cuttings (kids and adults) 

…all in paper bags, make a great sustainable alternative!


GIFTS

Now this is where we come into our element. We’ve had years of plastic-free and sustainable gift giving for friends and family of all ages so here we go…

Kids

  • Wooden toys i.e. wooden animals, peg dolls, marble run
  • Larger gifts such as tipis can be sourced/made out of material and bamboo
  • Experiences such as tickets to attractions or swimming lessons

Adults

  • Consumables always go down a storm for our friends: remember only corked wine is plastic free!
  • Experiences such as days out or vouchers for something they’ll really enjoy
  • Offering to pay for their subscriptions for a set amount of time, especially if they’re going through financial hardship
  • Make a donation for a charity that is close to their heart

When in doubt, always ask. Parents or friends or family will most likely get more out of gifts that they really want and actually use. 

Inspired? You can read more on plastic free partying from Plastic Free July here