Someone you love is having a baby. Hopefully, that child will spend the next 80 to 90 years on this planet. This is an excellent reason to do your best to make sure that the child will grow up in a clean and healthy world. So, why not start as you mean to go on, and throw an eco-conscious baby shower.
By far, the most eco-conscious, and economical green invitations are evites. With evites you can create your guest list, design the invitation, “mail” them out and keep track of responses all using no more energy than the minimal power of your laptop. No emissions. No waste.
But digital invitations aren’t the only green option. Many, if not most invitations can be printed on post-consumer paper. Recycled paper isn’t just Kraft paper anymore. Today, you can purchase recycled paper in any thickness, shade, or texture. Printing your own baby shower invitations are as simple as running them through your printer or taking your paper to your local office store. You can also look for invitation companies that specialize in working with recycled paper.
Beyond recycling, consider embedded paper. You can choose from a wide range of seeds. Many companies embed paper with a mixture of grass and wildflowers to support both the earth and pollinators. Simply print, or have your invitation printed on the special paper. After the shower, encourage your guests to tear the paper into shreds and scatter it around their yard, or any place that welcomes wildflowers. Invitations on seed embedded paper go well with slogans like “See what we’re growing!” or “Growing wild and free.”
Balloons are fun. I will be the first person to admit to that. But the latex lives in landfills for up to four years. Mylar is even worse. It’s made of nylon and plastic and doesn’t decompose. Balloons that don’t make it to the landfill, often end up in lakes, rivers and the ocean. Floating balloons pose a real hazard to wildlife. Instead of balloons, think about greener options to celebrate the birth of a child. Mark the mailbox for the party with a flag instead of a bunch of balloons. You can easily paint, print or glue on words announcing the shower. If you choose to personalize the flag, you can give it to the parents to decorate the baby’s room. Or, if you choose a more generic flag, keep it and loan it out to others who are planning showers, making the flag both green and cost effective.
If you want bright globes of color in the party, you aren’t limited to balloons. Instead, think about making large tissue-paper puffs that you can hang from the ceiling, or place on the tables. You can also place potted flowers around the room for pops of color and a delightful fragrance. Don’t forget cut flowers in vases to add both elegance and color to your decorating. After the shower, all the cut flowers are easily composted.
To keep the carbon footprint small, opt for locally grown, seasonal fruits, vegetables and dairy products for your party. If you have the opportunity to actually choose your produce from a local farmer’s market, or visit a local dairy, all the better. Winter showers can utilize root vegetable tartlets and quiche sourced from local, cruelty-free chicken farms.
But one of the hardest things to plan for is the dishes. The eco-friendliest option is to use dishes and utensils and simply wash them. Most people don’t have a service for more than eight to twelve people. So larger parties can be difficult, unless you rent from a party store. Then again, you may not want your dishes balanced over a concrete patio or spread all over the house. But paper plates will just end up in the landfill, right?
Not anymore. Today there are a wide range of compostable options for the green household. Even Solo, the maker of the ubiquitous red cup has a line of fully compostable plates, bowls, and yes cups. You can also purchase compostable “plastic” utensils, or forks and spoons made from bamboo or sugarcane. You can even gather up the refuse in compostable trash bags, so all the refuse from the party can go right back into healthy soil.
Traditional baby shower games rely heavily on paper and pencils. They waste trees and the hostess ends up with a mountain of trash. You don’t want to leave that for the earth to absorb. So, look for games and activities that involve reusing things around the house, or providing something useful for the parents.
Guessing games are always popular. Fill a clean, large jar with items that the parents will need such as pacifiers, baby socks, or rolled up baby wash cloths. To give guests more than one chance, you can create several jars of items. If you really want to be diabolical, split up the socks and only put in one sock from a pair so that your guests have to guess an odd number! Make sure the lid is on tight, so that no one can count them!
You can also get a stack of cloth bibs and bunch of Sharpie markers and encourage guests to decorate bibs for the baby.
Another fun option is to play “blind diapering.” For this game, split your guests into pairs. One person stands before a doll with a cloth diaper and pins. The other person is blind folded and stands behind. She sticks her arms through the person in front, providing the “helping hands” to change the diaper. The person in front can see the doll and the diaper and has to give the person behind instructions. For extra fun, pit two pairs against each other and ask them to race, seeing who can diaper the “baby” fastest. After the shower, present the mother-to-be with the counted items, the bibs and the diapers.
With a little care and a lot of heart, you don’t have to hurt the environment to celebrate a new inhabitant on planet earth.