Wow! A year has already passed and our son is 1 years old! When they say, time flies when you have kids, they weren't joking! It just seemed like yesterday when I found out I was pregnant. And the next thing you know, I'm planning Andrik's 1st birthday.
And it's not just his first birthday, it's Andrik's first greeeen birthday! :o) So how did we make this a green birthday, you may ask? Well for starters, we wanted to make sure that his celebration wasn't going to be another statistic of tableware, decorations and plastic party favors that would just end up in the landfill. Unfortunately one major landfill accumulator stems from celebrations. If you think about it, with all the zillions of people that reside on Planet Earth, there are alot of celebrations happening each day. Not to say celebrations are a waste, it's just the materials within celebrations that can be.
So to ensure that Andrik's celebration was a sustainable one, I did what I do best - research! And boy did I find a goldmine of eco-friendly websites! There are alot of great ideas out there, for instance: Nature Mom's Eco-Friendly Birthday Party, Green Birthday Party Ideas, Happy Green Birthday.
My first stop I encountered was an eco-friendly supplies store called GreenPartyGoods. They provide anything from biodegradable tableware to earth conscious party favors to recycled paper cupcake wraps! This company definitely has the planet in mind when it comes to parties. All of GreenPartyGoods’ products meet at least one of these criteria: recycled, re-useable, biodegradable, sustainable, or organic. Not only are the prices of their products very reasonable but the customer service is beyond accomodating! They really know how to keep their customers satisfied! This is one happy customer who will be utilizing their products for future parties to come! Just to get an idea of what we got from their store, we purchased biodegradable sugarcane plates, utensils and cups made out of corn, as well as 100% recycled paper napkins. It felt good knowing that when it came to cleaning up at the end of the party that the tableware could all be recycled. And yes we had separate garbage bags for paper, plastic and cans/bottles!
So my second stop was decorations. I wanted to keep it simple so I started reading up on eco-friendly decoration ideas and came across a blog about a family that used fabric birthday banners. I thought to myself how nice it would be to be able to reuse a Happy Birthday banner (along with another banner that has Andrik's name on it)! Something that could now be a family tradition that we could use year after year!
Of course I decided to go to my favorite online shop resource (Etsy) to see if there were any WAHMs (Work At Home Mom's) that I could support and purchase fabric banners from. I purchased this beautiful Happy Birthday fabric banner that was already pre-made from Meringue Designs. I also purchased a personalized fabric banner with Andrik's name on it with a cute monkey sock pattern from Little Birds Boutique.
So now that the green party goods and decorations were all squared away, I wanted to research for green birthday themes. During my search, I had read on one website where the family had an African themed party and instead of giving tons of gifts, the child requested for donations to go to kids in Africa. Another themed party was puppies. Instead of toys/gifts, parents were asked to donate dog food, leashes, collars, dog toys, etc. for the dogs in the animal shelter. To add to this great idea, the animal shelter brought puppies to the party for the kids to play with and learn about adopting.
These green themed party ideas brought such joy to my eyes but unfortunately they seemed more appropriate for older kids' birthdays instead of a 1 year old (and also since we were keeping the decorations simple, we didn't want to get carried away with Filipino-themed decorations - that could be an option for when he's older where we could donate money to children in the Philippines). So I kept searching and lo and behold, I found an awesome website called ECHOage. What a brilliant concept this company created! As stated on their website: ECHOage is a charity-driven, eco-friendly, online birthday party service where children learn the value of giving and receiving while celebrating. ECHOage was created to help concerned parents (such as myself) turn the child's next birthday party into an environmentally respectful and socially mindful celebration. Besides helping to save the earth, support those in need, and inspire others to follow in Andrik's footsteps, we're also helping to save precious time and money!
So instead of guests buying tons of gifts (which adds to the carbon footprint because guests would have to drive to the store to purchase the gift, and also use wrapping paper to wrap the gift), guests can contribute money that gets equally divided between the charity of the child's choice and one meaningful gift for the child. The company has a 15% fee for each contribution which goes towards their services of organizing your party online (i.e. keeping a headcount of the guests who RSVP, calculating the monies contributed to both the charity and your child, as well as sending the monies to the charity, etc). To us, this was a small fee compared to the conscious and eco-friendly benefits that we felt was worth it.
There were so many great charities to choose from. For example, Earth Corps which brings young people the opportunity to come together, plant trees and help restore habitat for the wildlife. Another charity is for Autism Speaks which helps the organization find the puzzle pieces to help make children's lives with autism much easier. The one we chose was called Children’s Oncology Camping Association International - which helps kids with cancer enjoy camping while getting the medicine and support they need to enjoy their summer. This one brought tears to my eyes and hit close to home because one of our best friends (Lou Genise) passed away last year from cancer so we just knew that this was the one we wanted the donations to go towards.
It felt good knowing that we are an integral part of the joy these children will be able to experience! And it felt good knowing that Andrik was going to get one meaningful gift that will last a long time instead of a plethora that would perhaps be shortly outlived (i.e. toys and clothes). The gift that we ended up purchasing was a toy box storage unit from an awesome eco-friendly company called Way Basics. Their patented, environmentally sound manufacturing process turns post-consumer recycled paper into superbly strong boards that weigh 62% less than particle board. zBoards are just as solid and structurally sound as any engineered wood furniture, yet they’re made from one of the simplest materials ever – paper.
After researching through their website and calling the company to ask specific questions, we decided to go with them. Everything was a true fit with our green beliefs: very eco-friendly, recyclable, easy to put together and non-toxic. Another so-called eco-friendly company that I won't mention uses plywood and although the wood was harvested in the production of birch plywood and is utilized and produced in an ecologically safe manner while maximizing energy efficiency, I read somewhere that their plywood (like most plywood unless specified formaldehyde-free) contains Formaldehyde in it. I had sent an email to the company to see if theirs had formaldehyde in it but never got a response in return so I decided to dig deeper in finding a company that I believe in and that responds to my questions in a timely manner. Thank you Way Basics! I can't wait to receive this storage toy box unit (which of course, will be a future post to boast about)! :o)
OK sorry for going off on a tangent (there was just too many lil nuggets of green information that was relative to Andrik's birthday that I wanted to mention). So back to Andrik's birthday party! Everything was starting to fall into place. The supplies and decorations had been delivered, the RSVP's in place, the food ordered and some food prepared (Daddy, Mommy and Nana were up late the night before rolling Vegetarian Lumpias -a Filipino eggroll), as well as, 2 cakes ordered (one yummy Filipino mango cake and one delicious cocao-banana-vanilla gluten-free/dairy free cake). In case you're wondering which cake Andrik got the chance to taste, welllll, he had neither. Sorry but if this was going to be a first for everything, I didn't want his first sugar high to come from cake...so we settled with a yummy, organic banana in the shape of a heart! Hey, it was his first time to even try banana (and banana is sweet enough)! Trust me, he's got plenty of years to get the chance to eat cake. I wanted his first birthday to not only be green but organic and healthy, too! ;o)
Sooo add a few green supplies and decorations, yummy Filipino food, amazing family and friends along with some downtempo beats to set the mood, and it was time to party! Oh and did I forget to mention -great weather! We were a little nervous that Andrik's big day would be rained out because ALL WEEK LONG it had been pouring (an unusual one for sunny LA). But the day of the party, the raindrops stopped, the sun came out and a beautiful rainbow spread across the sky for our special lil man! Thanks Universe!! :o)
It was definitely a beautiful day to remember - one filled with laughter, smiles, tasty treats, melodic beats and positive, loving energy surging throughout the house. To top of it off, our family made these beautiful magnet frames with several different pictures of Andrik to hand out to guests as souvenirs. I cried when I saw the magnets - it was such a pleasant surprise indeed! And to stick with the green theme, they made the magnets out of recycled popsicle sticks. Wow - gotta love our family and friends for supporting our quest to keep things eco-friendly!
Here's to our first "green" year with our sweet, funny, loving lil man (as Daddy likes to call him "The Ambassador of Love, Peace and Happiness")! The first of many to come...