It was such hard work, but would I do it again???
The answer to that question is most likely yes I would, but there are definitely some lessons to be learned for next time. What was it that I did though? Not content with trying to slow down fashion and preparing for plastic free July (as well as all my other challenges), I decided that it would be a great idea to throw a zero waste birthday party for my son recently!
- the foil cover of a tub of margarine,
- a plastic cucumber wrapper,
- butter wrappers x2 and
- plastic around a golden syrup tin lid.
- A few sweet wrappers
- Some wrapping paper from the lucky dip (which I did instead of going home bags)
- One or two disposable plastic cups
Why didn’t I achieve zero waste entirely and what could I improve for next year?
- I bought margarine for the cheese sandwiches. I could have used butter instead, but decided margarine would be easier to spread. I should have used butter (with a paper wrapper – see below) and just taken it out of the fridge in advance.
- I bought Rachel’s organic unsalted butter and was peturbed to find that when I soaked it to try and separate out the layers that it had two plastic layers, a foil layer and a paper layer (if not more). Another type of butter I bought (not organic) just had a paper wrapper, which if I couldn’t recycle I could put on my compost heap.
- I could have avoided wrapped cucumbers by either going to the food market in Lewes on Fridays, but that would have created other problems or I might have been able to get unwrapped cucumbers if I was doing a veg box scheme (need to look into this more)
- I need to write to the golden syrup people to ask them to remove the plastic from the tin – maybe they could use a sticker or something instead (a plastic free sticker)! I could have substituted golden syrup for local honey, but would have to make sure it didn’t also have a plastic wrapper around the lid.. Plus jar lids have plastic in them, which makes plastic free July tricky and local honey is very expensive!
- I made too many sandwiches. I was going to aim for half a sandwich per child, but I did slightly more than that and they ate less than that! I made two trays of sandwiches and only one tray got eaten.
- I didn’t think to ask for the wrapping paper back from the lucky dip as I was busy doing something else at the time, but I did get some back. I also gave out two disposable plastic cups to adults wanting drinks (I only had a few left over from previous years parties) and they may have ended up in the bin, but I did ask one person to take them home and recycle them. Next year I will need to take spare reusable cups!
- It meant that the nearer it got to the party the snappier I became with my family and the less time and attention I had spare for them.
- One evening I got a takeaway because I ran out of time to make dinner. Usually I have a plan to cover myself for this – see here and I could have avoided getting a takeaway if I had been a bit more organised but I didn’t manage it that day. I decided it would be ridiculous to put all that effort into a zero waste party and then because I was so busy get a takeaway full of packaging that would need to be chucked. I took an insulated bag and a couple of containers and went and got an almost zero waste take away from the fish and chip shop. The lady in the shop put a piece of paper in the bottom of one of my containers. I find that I have to continually remind people in some places not to add any packaging to my food!
- In general I spent less time on dinner all week and we had some very basic meals because I was so busy.
- I spent quite a bit of time clearing stuff up from the party at home afterwards, but I did it at my leisure and I felt it was worthwhile.
I did wonder though if I found it hard work and a bit of a struggle to do a zero waste kids party, when a) I had more spare time than a lot of parents do especially if they work or have younger kids and b) I am really focussed on it, what would need to happen to make zero waste parties become mainstream? I have a few ideas, but am interested to hear if anyone has any suggestions? How can we change things?