It comes every year, and when you’re a child, it may seem like one of the best days of the year. Many adults like to try to avoid it, but eventually you have to face the inevitable: every year, you’re going to have a birthday. There are many standard expectations in the way people in our country celebrate birthday, whether you’re a kid or an adult. Cake, ice cream, a birthday card, presents, party favors and decorations, and much more. If you’ve started to think about easy and meaningful ways to make your life greener, did you every consider having a greener birthday? Not only is it a great way to cut down on some of the common yet wasteful (and sometimes unhealthy) practices many of us just do without a second thought, it’s also a great way to get other people involved. Once friends and family see your green birthday, they may want to try it, too!

Birthday gifts:

Almost everybody loves getting gifts, no matter what age. But if you really stop to think about it, how important or meaningful are the gifts we give and receive? What you chose to give a friend, family member, your child, or your child’s friends can have a big impact on the giftee and on the environment. Most kids parties involve a flurry of unwrapping of cheap plastic toys, and where do the wrapping, bows, ribbons, and yes, toys often end up? That’s right, in the trash. Many cheap toys are easily breakable, or kids just lose interest. Plus, many kids toys come in layers of cardboard and plastic. And all that wrapping is rarely saved. It doesn’t matter if you’re gifting your spouse or a child at a party, it’s a good opportunity to look for ways to “give greener.” If you’re crafty, find a better way to wrap using fabric or recycled paper. Give an experience rather than a toy to close friends or family. Forgo the bought card for a heartfelt handwritten one, or give a video message – you know that won’t get tossed in the trash!

Treats:

It’s often a toss up for a child when they are asked “Do you want to have cake or open presents first?” Cake, ice cream, cupcakes, goody bags . . .of ten at birthdays the sugar factor is high. Depending on where the food comes from, it can also be loaded with artificial dyes, high fructose corn syrup and other unhealthy ingredients. You don’t have too much control over what other people are serving at their parties, but when you throw a birthday at your own home, you have a good opportunity to model good green behavior. Do kids really need a bag of sugared candy to take home? If you love a pinata, could it be homemade, with healthier or more environmentally friendly treats inside? Can you or someone you know make a cake that is both healthy and yummy? With so many children dealing with food restrictions and allergies today anyway, you might just be able to ease another mom’s mind when you tell her that this birthday party is natural and healthy

Even though we moan and groan sometimes about getting older, on our special day, many of us turn into a kid at heart even if we can’t be a kid again. If you’re looking to make meaningful eco-friendly changes in your life, don’t overlook the birthday party as a great opportunity to make the birthday persona feel special and look out for the health and well being of the people and planet at the same time!