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eco-friendly birthday party

April 20, 2010

We recently had a birthday party for my little boy (three years goes by way too fast!). Birthday parties can create a lot of waste, especially when kids are involved: paper plates, disposable cups and utensils, and goody bags.  We wanted our boy to have a fun party without all the waste.
Our first step was investing in reusable plastic dishware. We don’t use much plastic in our house but we decided it was necessary with a lot of toddler and pre-school age kids running around. I chose the Preserve brand because they are BPA free, and made from recycled materials in the USA!

They were more definitely more expensive than paper plates but we will have them for years to come, and we like to entertain, especially in the summer.

We serve our guests the animal free foods we normally eat, and typically no one even notices; except for my brother who is a meat and potatoes guy and pretty much my polar opposite (why couldn’t I have gotten the olive complexion?).  Since eating lower on the food chain is eco-friendly, the vegan menu also fit in with our goal of a smaller foot print.

My little boy chaired the menu. He requested mac and cheese (which is never really mac and cheese at our house), fruit salad, kale chips, rice chips and dip, and a chocolate cake. The nice thing about letting a child choose a vegan menu, is that they are typically good choices for non-vegan adults.

I stuck to my boy’s requests, as well as a salad for the adults. My hubby was in charge of the fruit salad.


I made a vegan chocolate cake with vegan peanut-butter butter cream.

Vegan Peanut-Butter Butter Cream
3/4 cup creamy, easily spreadable peanut-butter (I used Trader Joes)
1/2 cup Earth Balance
½ cup Spectrum non-hydrogenated shortening (palm kernel oil)
½ cup maple syrup

Whip all ingredients in a stand (or handheld) mixer. I added a little carob powder to a bit of frosting to decorate the cake.

I failed to take pictures of the rest of the food, so I will leave a quick synopsis.

-Baked mac and cheese from the VeganYumYum cookbook, using whole wheat noodles and adding broccoli.

– Kale chips dressed with sea salt and sesame seeds and baked at 250 degrees for an hour.

-Dip from butter beans, artichoke hearts, sautéed onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper served with Lundberg Rice Chips

-Salad of romaine with kalmata olives, sundried tomatoes, and a simple lemon vinaigrette

– Unsweetened iced roobios tea

For favors, we bought each child a pack of crayola crayons and tied a ribbon around them. The crayons were relatively inexpensive, non-toxic and made in the USA. Plus almost all kids will use them for longer than the plastic whistles and figurines you typically find in a goody bag. The ribbons made them festive, while not wasting as much as if we used baggies and tissue paper.

We decorated by hanging pictures and some of B’s artwork on a string with clothes pins. It was cute, festive, and not wasteful.

The birthday presents we chose for our boy were also earth friendly. Buying natural toys can be more expensive, but there are some great options out there. Here are a few brands that tend to be more affordable.

Green Toys
Plan Toys


I also love Maple and Mark, and Holgate, but their toys for older kids can be pretty pricey.
We tend to choose a couple giftss we think B will really like, rather than going crazy. I want him to have great birthdays, but I also don’t want to raise an uber-consumer who thinks more presents equals more love.

That said, one of my boy’s gifts, was more a gift to myself.

Is that not the cutest thing ever??

Anyhow, B had a wonderful time at his birthday party and we did not mind the extra dishes one bit. 🙂

My eco-tip for this post is baby related. Cloth diapers are way easier than you think. We loved our Fuzzi Bunz! And, if you use or are planning to use cloth diapers, cloth wipes are a must. They will save a ton of money and are easy to wash, since you throw them right in with the diapers.

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