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Parties and presents

Parties and presents

Childrens parties are great fun and we love it when our children are making friends and socialising.

You’re all invited

No matter the size of the party, single use cutlery and plastic or paper plates really add to our consumption.

If you’re hosting your own party at home or in a hired hall, use their facilities for plates, cutlery and cups. Reusable cups and plates can be hired in our GCBB Party Sets Loan Out Facebook group. You can borrow from friends and family, or ask everyone to bring a packed lunch box for you to fill.

Party games like pass the parcel also produce a lot of waste. Pass the parcel bags are a great time, money and waste saver. No longer do you have to wrap each layer, you simply close a bag of increasing size each time. The Hub runs bag workshops, or you can borrow a set in our GCBB Party Sets Loan Out Facebook group. They can also be purchased online and reused time and time again.

Party bags, which I’ve also heard called “cake bags”, are an enormous single use plastic we could easily avoid. Simply give the cake out! Many parents have been creative about what small favours have been given for attending their child’s party, like books or wildflower seed packets, other items – or not giving any at all.

Instead of bringing gifts, ask for children to draw a picture for the birthday child. A lovely personal touch from all his or her friends, these could then be placed into a scrapbook.

Thinking outside of the (gift) box

Noone disputes it’s lovely to receive a gift. The time and trouble someone has taken to think of you or your child is very special. But what if that gift didn’t rely on “buying more stuff” and therefore reduced our consumption. What if the gift was secondhand, or homemade? What if the gift wasn’t something that was unwrapped, but an experience, or an IOU voucher for some time with a friend or family member?

Normalising second hand gifts is key to the concept of reducing. Make it known you’d happily accept a second hand gift. Give second hand gifts.

When a purchase is required, buy it second-hand if possible, or try to find a sustainable option (experiences, donations to a favourite charity or cause, days out, or IOU vouchers for time with a friend or family member all make great gifts, for example).

There are so many ways to buy second-hand, from local Freebeecycle groups, to online marketplaces (eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Vinted). For non-digital options, you can’t beat a good charity shop or boot fair. You can find great quality items, save a fortune and massively reduce the environmental impact of that purchase. Good for the planet and for your pocket!

Homemade gifts have always had an extra special meaning for the recipient, but time pressures have meant many families have stopped doing this. It’s time to find time. The Hub runs all sorts of crafting sessions to help with ideas, inspiration and skills. Spending time together at one of our workshops is also a great family experience. YouTube is a gold mine of ideas and tutorials and of course Pinterest; you can search by age appropriate activities. Or what about the homemade items that come home from school? Can they be repurposed into gifts for family members?

Thank you for the kind invite,
We’re trying to put the planet right,
This gift here has been loved before,
But still has much more fun in store.
We love our world, and hope you see,
A gift sent with love to you from me.

(Thanks to Leila Allsopp for this beauty!)

All wrapped up

If you are giving a gift, try making reusable gift bags. Even better, reusing old clothing to make them lessens the environmental impact of the piece of clothing too. The Hub frequently runs reusable gift bag workshops, giving you the skills and confidence to make as many as you need.

Each Christmas, the UK consumes around 227,000 miles of wrapping paper. That’s equivalent to 108 million rolls or around 50,000 trees. Almost all of this ends up being burned or sent to landfill as it simply cannot be recycled. The shiny and glittery paper is formed of microplastics, and poor quality wrapping paper is too weak in structure to be recycled. Glitter ends up in our seas and in the stomachs of marine animals. It’s fatal to them.

Even when paper says it can be recycled, it often isn’t because sellotape is attached and recycling plants can’t distinguish between specific types of wrapping paper.

Reusable gift bags cut down on consumption of wrapping materials, the impact of producing those materials and disposing of them afterwards, plus they’ll also save you money!