Spinning Plates: How to Choose the Greenest Party Goods?

How have I spent 45 minutes researching paper goods for a 2-year-old’s birthday party? And not even cute ones.

Planning a party for a handful of toddlers and adults at the new local playspace, which seems to be doing a pretty good job in the green scene. However, the party goods they supply are plain, old conventional fare. So I offered to BYO to keep things a little greener. Easy, no? No.

When I did my book launch party back in December, I was adamant about using 100% compostable party goods, providing a compost bin, and having the compost hauled to a commercial facility. With the party launching a green book, I thought it would be pretty tacky not to keep it as sustainable as possible.

But I just can’t bring myself to collect a dozen pizza-stained plates from a bunch of two year olds to bring home to compost. I also can’t bring myself to set out a bunch of dollar store Disney plates.

I learned in past research that all of these bagasse, sugar, bamboo, and corn-based plates are only biodegradable or compostable if disposed of in an actual composting system. Thrown in a landfill, they’d do more harm than good, just producing methane gas. Unfortunately, this is something that very few people realize. But, again, very few people have the means/access/patience to always be composting party goods.

On the other hand, even if disposed in a landfill, biodegradable tableware is made far more sustainably, leaving a smaller carbon footprint from the beginning of the product lifecycle.

So which is better – recycling a traditional plastic plate or tossing a compostable bagasse plate?

For this little party, the best I’ve come up with is purchasing some Chinet 100% recycled (pre-consumer but I’ll take it) and made in the USA plates. If I was having the party at home, I’d use Preserve recycled plastic plates, which can be re-used and eventually recycled.

OK, I refuse to think about this anymore. But I really want to know what you would do!?


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