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If you’ve ever had to handle the post-party clean-up, you’ll know that it mostly entails tossing used or broken plastic tableware and decorations in the bin. Make your party greener – and minimise the clean-up – with these tips.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, each Australian will use 130kg of plastic each year – of that, only 12 per cent is recycled. In the WWF’s list of the Top 10 worst plastic items, seven can be commonly found at parties: plastic plates, containers, cups, cutlery, balloon sticks, drink stirrers and straws.

Throwing our used plastic partyware into the recycling bin isn’t enough. It ends up in landfill, on the side of the road and, most worryingly, up to 130,000 tonnes of plastic finds its way into our waterways each year – studies show it’s even started to enter the food chain and onto our plates. But changing our approach to partyware and decor doesn’t have to be hard – there are a number of businesses already blazing the trail, with sustainable solutions to your go-to party purchases already readily available. Where there aren’t, there are means and ways for you to avoid bulk buying items that you’ll only use for one night. Here’s what we mean…

Buy sustainable or re-usable party décor
The simplest way to cut down on unnecessary waste is to purchase things you’ll use time and time again. Instead of a ‘Happy 4th Birthday!’ banner, why not get something more generic like ‘It’s party time!’ that you can use for future celebrations? Tea lights, flower petals and plant garlands are a few examples of re-usable decorations that deliver the ‘wow’ factor in spades, but if you absolutely insist on opting for single-use décor and partyware, ensure it’s biodegradable – natural materials like wood and sugarcane pulp are the perfect plastic alternative.

Plan your menu
Food waste should be avoided too, and all it takes is a bit of clever planning. To avoid the need for plastic plates and cutlery, consider serving finger food so that you don’t need to worry about the clean-up afterwards – opt for a reasonably- sized platter or hors d’oeuvres. Ensure you’ve supplied the right amount of food to reduce waste, and only top up your food stations when they’re empty. Anything you haven’t taken out of the fridge yet can go straight into school or work lunches once the party’s over.

Get your guests to go plastic-free
Kids’ parties are notorious for creating a tonne of unnecessary waste, and that’s in part to do with the presents. Consider asking your guests to wrap their presents in pre-used wrapping paper, colourful sections of the newspaper or even sheets of hand-drawn artwork from kindy/school. For party favours, consider providing your guests at the start of the party with a cool reusable cup or drink container (labelled with the guests’ names to save confusion) that they can use throughout your event and take home at the end. Instead of throwaway plastic party favour bags, maybe a cheap pencil case, or the like, would be a more practical reusable option?

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haven  

haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.