Baby shower trends have come and gone over the years — thankfully goofy games and over-the-top themes seem to be fading into the rearview. But, the latest trend, eco friendly or “green” showers, is probably here to stay. With an eye on the future of the planet for their soon-to-be born babies, more and more parents are asking that celebrations are mindful of waste at a minimum. Whether you’re a parent-to-be, planning a shower, or just a guest with an eye on sustainability, advice from experts can help steer the party in a greener direction, whether a simple garden gathering or a formal luncheon. And here’s the best part – going green also means taking a more practical, money-saving approach that allows everyone involved to truly live their values.
Cut back on the extra stuff
While etiquette experts may disagree, the least wasteful way to send out invitations is through an e-vite service. Sites like GreenInvite.com and PaperlessPost.com let the user design a gorgeous invite, send them with a single click to guests, and manage RSVPs (which you’re realistically more likely to get if you go digital).
And while it might not make as pretty a party picture, some, like Jessica Johnson and her expectant spouse Kelly Dittmore, are saying, “No wrapped gifts please.”
If you must use paper plates (or those cute straws), Hannah Johnson, CEO and founder of Seattle based Durable Dish, says, “Make sure that they are compostable. There’s a big difference between compostable, certified compostable, and biodegradable. Biodegradable can still have plastic in it. It just has to meet a small threshold of natural plant-based material. So, biodegradable is not compostable. And so, just recognizing those subtle differences — that’ll have a bigger impact.”
Rethink the registry
“I made a note under every possible item on our BabyList.com registry saying ‘second hand preferred,’ ” explained Dittmore of her gift philosophy, “I tried to think of ways to get gently used items instead of new because I know they’re out there.”
BabyList offers not only the option to register for gently used items, but also green gifts that are services, like a month of cloth diapers, or a dog walker, which can be a lifesaver for a new parent – and won’t end up in a landfill.
BabyList founder and CEO Natalie Gordon explained the registry site aims to be green and practical. When she was pregnant with her first child, she found that most registries didn’t really serve her needs. “We’re really committed to cloth diapering, and so we wanted to use a local cloth diaper service. And so even at our baby shower, being able to ask friends and family for a month of that service . . . is something that we wanted to do.”
So she created BabyList with those needs in mind. “We let parents create hyper-personalized registries. They’re not constrained to one store,” Gordon said. “They can ask for pre-loved products. They can ask for things like cloth diaper services or other things that are the most important to their family.”
Eliminate single use party products
This seems like a no-brainer, but even though doing the dishes can be tedious, single use plastics — plates, decorations, silverware — should be avoided for an eco-friendly event. There are many creative ways to host a party with things that won’t be landfill bound hours later.
Johnson offered some suggestions learned from experience on the job.
“Get creative with communications. If you’re throwing a smaller event, asking people to bring their own dishes and show up with their own set, and they can use that for the party, I think, is a cool way to engage people in the thought around sustainability,” she explains. “And, to have them bring something that maybe means something to them for that day. . . . We’ve definitely gone that route, too, and that’s been fun.”
Or, for an eclectic look — think mix-and-match boho or a classic diner style — that doesn’t involve people bringing their own dishes, Johnson says, “There is always the option of going to Goodwill and picking up a set of dishware for the event, and then, even bringing it back and redonating it to Goodwill when they’re done.” Going this route means your event isn’t wasteful, and you’re spending money with a charitable organization. (Be sure to grab a receipt for tax season.)
For decor, you may plan to fill your space with flowers, and it’s important to consider where they came from and the carbon footprint that shipping them from the other side of the planet has.
April Churchill, of the Waltham based ReFlowerProject.org, suggests talking to your vendors or working with a local farm. For example, she explains, “There’s a farm in Norwell called Cross Street Flower Farm where you can actually go and choose your own flowers for a venue and you know they’re grown organically or just the impact they have on the soil, and the environment and that you’re buying locally.”
She also says, “Another thing is balloons. Balloons have turned into a big no-no for me. I know they’re fun and everything, but . . .” Released balloons can travel thousands of miles, landing in forests or the sea where animals can mistake them for food.
After the party
Churchill, who also runs GoGreenGiveBack.com, a directory of eco-friendly event vendors — including one that makes confetti out of flower petals — suggests thinking about what happens to your decor after the party and giving it a second life.
Reach out to a local hospital an organization like ReFlower and donate your florals. Churchill explains, “Either we re-purpose them with the vases we have, or sometimes, there are oodles of vases that are donated, and we bring them up to Rosie’s Place, country inns, or nursing homes that are local.”