This article was originally published in the Spring 2022 edition of OHbaby!
Baby showers are a beautiful way to celebrate the impending arrival of your bubba with loved ones before you’re swept up in the whirlwind of motherhood.
But like any party, they can be wasteful affairs. From single-use plastic cutlery to receiving gifts you don’t actually need (or want), baby showers often contribute to lots of unnecessary landfill waste.
It’s not all bad news, though! Here are my best tips for throwing an ethical baby shower that’s kind on the planet, kind on your wallet and the kind of day you’ll cherish for years to come.
EMBRACE CLEAN AND GREEN DECORATIONS
Custom balloon garlands might look amazing on Pinterest, but a single latex balloon can take up to 450 years to decompose. Even biodegradable balloons take at least four months to disintegrate and could cause harm to sea life if they land in the ocean. Consider investing in felt or crochet buntings and wooden wall signs to give your shower a cosy, boho feel. Save and reuse them later for future parties or to decorate your nursery.
You could also bring in a touch of mother nature by using indoor plants, leaf trimmings or blooms from the garden to liven up your table. Better yet, host the party outdoors for minimal decor and maximum beauty!
GET CREATIVE WITH SUSTAINABLE GIFT WRAPS
Even if you’re the type of person to carefully unwrap gifts with the proficiency of a surgeon, there’s no escaping the countless pieces of sticky tape that end up in the bin. The fact is that most wrapping paper – especially glossy ones – can’t be recycled because they contain bits of plastic or metallics.
Invite your guests to get crafty and wrap their prezzies in upcycled fabric, old scarves or baby blankets instead. Adding twine, tree sprigs or dried flowers will give it that extra earthy charm. Some other alternatives to wrapping paper include cotton tote bags, rattan baskets or mason jars and beeswax wraps, both of which are perfect for edible gifts such as home-made baking.
A REGISTRY FOR MEANINGFUL GIFT-GIVING
It can be awkward to broach the subject of ethical gift-giving with family and friends. But it’s more awkward (and wasteful) when two people show up with the same gift. Creating a registry allows you to cut down on duplicates, things you don’t need or items that don’t align with your values. Because the last thing you want as a mama is to be overwhelmed by newborn gifts that your baby will outgrow within their first year.
Here are some useful and conscious gift ideas:
+ Ask guests to pool their cash to invest in a big ticket item (car seat, crib, stroller, etc). If that feels too ‘practical’, give them the option of shopping for quality, heirloom toys that are made ethically and to last.
+ Not keen on receiving new stuff? Create a pre-loved registry and request that guests contribute secondhand items, from toys and clothes to baby walkers and high chairs.
+ Start a book registry for your little one. Build your home library with secondhand books from your childhood to new books that promote mindfulness, diversity and an understanding of our planet.
+ If you feel like you have everything you need, find a charity that’s close to your heart and ask guests to make a fair donation.
+ OR, a combo of everything above!
Aside from the essentials, newborns don’t need nearly as much as we think they do. At the age of grasping and being more aware of the world, they will be happy with any random (but safe) item they can get their hands on – including your company! So buy less, and when you do buy, choose quality treasured pieces that will help them explore their creativity.
PREPARE ETHICAL NIBBLES AND REUSABLE TABLEWARE
There’s no party without good food, but sadly, many of the typical party foods come with heaps of unavoidable plastic packaging. The best way to avoid this is to buy fresh produce from your grocer or farmer’s market. If you can’t do without chips and dip, consider a homemade alternative.
For sweet foods such as chocolate or cakes, it can be hard to know if the cocoa or sugar were sourced ethically. Wherever possible, choose fairtrade certified or organic foods and drinks that were made fairly, with minimum impact on the environment.
You don’t have to fork out more money for brand new reusable cutlery – quite the opposite! Ask around and borrow your linens, utensils and napkins from people in your circle. You’ll be surprised how many people have unused items in their kitchen. If it is within your budget (and you’re not keen on a big clean-up), shop for biodegradable or wooden cutlery that can be composted at a commercial compost near you.
EARTH-FRIENDLY PARTY FAVOURS AND GAMES
Baby shower favours are a nice add-on rather than a necessity, in my opinion. But if you want to thank your guests with a natural and eco-friendly parting gift, here are some of our favourite ideas:
+ Potted herbs or succulents
+ Loose leaf, ethically sourced tea
+ Fairtrade chocolate or hot cocoa
+ Soy wax or beeswax candles in reusable jars
If you want to engage your guests with tasteful, fun and zero-waste games, try these out:
+ Baby faces. Ask each guest to bring a baby photo of themselves and try to match the faces.
+ Which parent was it? Get the future parents to write some facts from their childhood and the guests have to find out which fact belongs to which parent.
+ Guess the tune. Play a bunch of songs with the word ‘baby’ in the title and ask guests to list them out. The one who gets the most correct wins!
What better way to celebrate the newest member of your family than by honouring your own values! Hosting an ethical baby shower takes a little more effort, but it’s an opportunity to make a difference and welcome motherhood in style.
- Use e-invites instead of printing cards.
- Wear something you already own, borrow or hire your outfit, or choose preloved instead of buying a new garment just for the party.
- Host it in your own backyard or home to avoid extra commuting. Ask guests to use public transportation or carpool if possible.
- If there’s too much extra food, pack some away for guests, or freeze what you can to enjoy over the next few days.