While birthdays are for joy and laughter, presents and parties, they can also be great time to go green either subtly or as a learning opportunity for kids. The first introduction to minding the Earth is often in elementary school with the “Three Rs” — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — so let’s begin there.


While “reduce” is probably the most difficult one to implement, it is worth it since birthday parties often have so much paper and plastic products and decorations that are bought and thrown away within hours:

  • Use cloth napkins and tablecloths. You could even step it up to real silverware and plates!
  • If using paper cups, have a marker handy to write the guests’ names on their cups so they don’t use as many.
  • Use pitchers for water, tea and other drinks rather than having individual plastic containers and cans.
  • Don’t get personalized decorations (beyond marking paper cups) because they’re much harder to reuse.


“Reuse” is the most fun way to go green because kids love using things they’ve made, and it can help your guests go green as well.

  • Replace goody bags with a reusable art project such as coloring placemats, designing mugs, or decorating planters.
  • You can even use some of these crafts to replace paper goods you would’ve bought such as using the decorated mugs during the party.
  • Keep decorations from previous parties so you don’t have to buy cups, forks, or a new “Happy Birthday” sign every time.
  • Spend the weekend before the party making decorations out of paper and magazines around your home rather than buying decorations at all!


This is the simplest way to go green at a party because the key to recycling is making it easy to do it.

  • Have a well-marked bin for the recycling of glass, paper, aluminum, and anything else your municipality accepts. Place it right next to the trash can so your guests can’t miss it.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have curbside recycling, you can just dump it into your bin at home, or you can find your local recycling center and swing by on your way home from the party.

If you are really feeling the Going Green theme, you can make the Earth the theme of your party.

  • Use The Lorax as jumping off place for younger kids.
  • Many Earth Day activities can be used as birthday party crafts and decorations
  • Have the party in a nature center or science museum where the kids (and adults) can learn more about how they can implement the Three Rs and more in your community.

Have a wonderful birthday party and thanks for giving the Earth a present, too!