September 20th, 2011

5 Eco Friendly Goody Bag Options

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eco friendly goody bag

My three boys are still young enough to like a good birthday party-especially when it’s their own. Their excitement leading up to the party is adorable and their willingness to take on the role of “king for a day” is magical.  My eleven year old still wears our traditional “handmade by mom” crown around the house (think construction paper taped together in the shape of a crown).

From a child’s perspective, the highlight of any birthday party is most often the requisite goody bag- filled with, as my 7 year old says, “the best toys ever”.  From a parents perspective the goody bags are usually filled with junky plastic toys that generally break before you pull the car into your driveway and ultimately end up in a landfill faster then you can say “Happy Birthday”.

I find myself struggling year after year with the decision whether or not to partake in the obligatory handing out of goody bags at my children’s birthday parties. I have a difficult time rationalizing buying bags and filling them with useless trinkets that are possibly filled with toxic chemicals when so many are living without basic necessities. It just seems excessive and wasteful. At the same I don’t want to deny my kids the right to be kids and enjoy a traditional goody bag filled birthday party. I have experimented with alternatives to goody bags and found that some are keepers and some are not.

Here are five goody bag alternatives that are eco friendly, prevent waste and limit the number of plastic toys that end up in a landfill.

  1. eco friendly birthday partyDonate what you would have spent on the goody bag to a charity. For my son’s 8th birthday we donated what we would have spent on goody bags to the people of Haiti (this was right after the earthquake). My son wrote a note to his guests, with our help, explaining what we had done.
  2. Make a CD of your favorite music. This was a big hit for my son’s 7th birthday.
  3. Give a book. Books are always a great option and a nice way to say “thanks for coming”.
  4. Personalize flower seed packets. For under $2 at beaucoup you can send  your guest home with their very own packet of wildflower seeds personalized with the name of the birthday girl or boy. 
  5. Give a tree. Send the kids home with their very own Tree in a Box. The tree seed kit comes with tree seeds, organic biodegradable peat pot and instructions. Trees act as a filter, cleaning the air by intercepting airborne particles, and absorbing air pollutants. They also help reduce the “greenhouse effect” by absorbing CO2. What a great way to be green at your own birthday party!

Do you struggle like I do with the idea of a goody bag ? What are your eco friendly ideas for replacing the standard goody bag?

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14 Responses to “5 Eco Friendly Goody Bag Options”

  1. Wow! There’s a joke in my half written second novel about the ecological disaster that is a birthday goodie bag. This year I told both my kids that we were through with goodie bags, and nobody died. We did books for both kids’ birthdays–chapter books for my older son, and a paper airplane book for my kindergartener.

  2. I feel your pain with this one! I usually try to give something more substantial in the goody bag instead of the junk – not necessarily more expensive, just something that won’t break in 3 minutes. I knit a lot. For my oldest’s 5th birthday party (princess theme) I knitted pink fluffy scarves for the girls. Notepads and cute pencils are another favorite.
    I look forward to the day when we stop goody bags. Especially getting them!

  3. Hi Sarah-I can’t wait to read that second novel! Birthday goody bags really are their own little ecological disaster. A book is a great party favor option-paper airplane books are a favorite over here too. Glad to hear you stood your ground and no one died :)

  4. It’s funny Kristina-I don’t know a single parent that actually enjoys being on the receiving or giving end of a goody bag. So why do we all continue to do them? The twenty million dollar question I guess. I love that you knitted pink fluffy scarves for your daughters 5th birthday party. I think my boys would faint if one of those ended up in their goody bag :)

  5. I love the book idea. Can’t believe I never thought of that. The CD one is great too. For my 4-year-old’s birthday earlier this year, I sent everyone home with crayons and a notebook (school supplies were on sale at the time) — they weren’t even eco-friendly ones, but at least I knew they’d get used!

  6. Hi Betsy-I’ve sent kids home with a pack of crayons and a maze book. It feels much better to know that the goody bag has something they will actually use! The book and CD option worked well from my perspective, but not sure the kids were all thrilled with their prize. Oh well!

  7. Ooh, love the personalized seed packets idea! It’s fun to watch things grow, even as an adult. :)

    I, for one, have never understood why we give out goody bags at all. Why should guests get not only entertainment and food in return for a gift, but also a bag of stuff to take home? How is the experience itself not enough? What are we teaching our kids?

  8. I agree Andrea-the seed packets are an awesome party favor. I’m with you on the goody bags-somehow we have all found ourselves in this situation where we are throwing a party and giving out gifts! The party and experience are more than enough-but how to break a cycle that’s been in place for a long time? You are so right-what are we teaching our kids? Spend, waste and throw. That’s a lesson I’d like to revamp.

  9. I have done Farmer’s Market finds, like homemade candy and honey sticks. I have also make my own seed packets – veggies to be exact! Note sure what the boys thought of that one, or the moms. I have also done rice crispie squares I made my self, decorated with sprinkles, and stuck a popsicle stick in it and wrapped it up. Pack baking, like cookies or something. I love the scarves! Perhaps you could also make a toy at the party as an activity, like a sock puppet or something. Once year we planted a spring flower and every little girl got to take it home in the pot they decorated themselves.

  10. Hi Sherry-I love the idea of planing a flower and taking it home. The farmer’s market purchases are also a great suggestion-keeping the shopping local. Thanks for the great ideas!

  11. […] Undecided! If I were to do the goody bag option, I would go with one of these great ideas over at Groovy Green Livin! My personal favorite is the […]

  12. Love the GIVE A TREE option, very smart! Will totally do that. Donating to charity is a great option as well!!

  13. Thanks Tiffany-I like the tree option too. I’ve tried the charity route with a few gifts. The balance between receiving gifts and giving them was great.

  14. […] is to opt out of giving a goody bag. However, if you would like to pass something on to the kids  Groovy Green Livin has some great ideas. My personal favorite is the gift of a tree in a […]

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I embark on a journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I might make a few pit stops to fight for issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

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