Can you find party supplies without plastic? It is an increasingly common question. Well if you are here you know you can. I don’t believe you need plastic to party.
How To Party Without Plastic
Think about using natural fibres only
Plan ahead for a zero waste strategy
Minimise how much single use supplies you use
Reusable is the key to long term and affordable plastic free parties
Natural Fibres Only
Natural fibres means anything that can be grown. If it is natural it can generally be composted, and composting is a brilliant zero waste Why of disposing of party waste. Paper and cardboard, bamboo, wood, sugarcane fibres, palm leaf supplies and reusable coconut bowls.
Zero Waste Strategy
Zero Waste sounds difficult but all it means is you don’t use anything that can’t be composted or recycled. Only 9% of all the plastic ever manufactured has been recycled; and it can only be recycled a few times. Concentrate on easily recycled materials like glass, aluminium and paper.
Minimise Single Use
Yes I sell single use supplies so it might sound strange to advocate considering reusable. But if you have a lot of parties in the long run reusable will save you money. This also includes food packaging. What food can you serve that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic film? Food packaging is hard to avoid! But every little bit you can avoid is worth the effort.
Reusable Party Supplies
I sell a lot of bunting and party decorations that are perfect for keeping and re-using year after year. Made from paper, cardboard and twine most of them are suitable for composting once they’re damaged. If you have space to buy reusable party plates made from bamboo in some beautiful colours you will have a gorgeous party year on year. An easy and space saving way to start are reusable table cloths and napkins.
Click here for compostable party supplies without plastic and some funky square sugarcane plates.
Scotland are leading the way. Wales led the way with a 5p charge for plastic carrier bags. Scotland have already decided that a 20p fee will be paid on the return of a single use plastic drinks bottles. The deposit return scheme even includes cans and glass bottles. It is only PET plastic bottles at the moment – think your fizzy drinks and water – not your milk containers. So exactly how is this going to work?
These things take time and the scheme isn’t going to be in action until 2021; but the effect could be huge. Imagine the numbers of drinks bottles not being recycled and just put straight into black waste that might be captured and recycled. It’s great to remember that it isn’t just plastic pollution that’s a problem. Take a look around you and you will find glass containers and cans dumped everywhere as well. Even the lazy arsed litterer may think twice if they are throwing £1 into the nearest bush rather than taking them home.
I’ve read that some small retailers are concerned about storage issues with the scheme prior to collection of the returned drinks containers. My view is if you can sell it; you can take it back to recycle it. We are so focused now on money over environment. Plastic pollution will only be conquered if our buying habits change – and that doesn’t just involve the supermarket chains but the corner shops and small businesses in our local communities. Maybe littering will only be reduced if we bribe people not to do it? Let’s face it many people already think it’s ok to do it.
But what about online drinks retailers? Heh they aren’t exempt (at the moment only pubs are). Although I can’t imagine how easy or successful returning your empty drinks bottles to Amazon or your online supermarket would be.
Bottle Return and Carrier Bag Re-use
I hope the rest of the UK follows Scotland’s lead and implements this scheme asap. I remember as a child the glass pop bottle return scheme. Going round the streets with my cousin to find extra bottles so we could spend the money on sweets.
It might be more expensive in the short term, the logistics might add to your workload and take up space. But what if within 5 years we can reduce littering significantly and take our recycling rate up to over 90%? Won’t that be worth it? It will show the manufacturers that the UK means business on environmental protection.
Need more evidence? Consider the carrier bag scheme. On 1st October 2011 Wales started charging 5p for one carrier bag. It wasn’t very popular at the time. I remember many people moaning about why should they pay to carry their shopping. From it’s introduction to 2014 the use of single use carrier bags and dropped by 71% and between £17 and £22 million was raised for charity.
I still don’t always remember my shopping bags and it’s 2019! But in a couple of years we’ll stop moaning about the fact we store bottles and cans to take back for a couple of quid and do it routinely. And come on kids; this is your chance to earn some extra cash surely!
There is a lot of talk about compostable packaging and food supplies. Manufacturers often talk about how their packaging composts within 12 weeks. Or how the coffee cup you are using is compostable. What they don’t tell you is their claims are based on commercial composting on an industrial scale. If you think of composting do you picture a big industrial facility or a heap in your back garden? So what is home composting and what is compostable?
It is simple to do. It can be cheap – it depends on if you build your own compost heap using old wood pallets or if you buy a super expensive compost bin. Where I live in Cardiff the council actually sell you compost bins for £7. It’s basically a big bin with a hatch door at the bottom to make it easier to get your finished compost out.
Home composting and industrial composting work on different timescales. You are never going to get good quality home compost in 12 weeks. The temperature of the heap is unlikely to get high enough for rapid breakdown; especially in the winter months. Does that make it any less compostable? Well no. Cardboard is compostable – but everyone says biodegradable. Sugarcane tableware is compostable but I have to use biodegradable because it doesn’t happen within an industrial composting timeframe. There is a nice study on domestic composting rates of cardboard, sugarcane plates, plant based compost liner and compostable bioplastic fork. The cardboard and sugarcane plate had degraded in 80% of the test compost heap within 6 months and in 95% within 12 months.
That’s why I’m passionate about bagasse tableware. Six months after you use it you can feed your flowerbeds, plant vegetables and have a good source of home made compost. Can you do that with a plastic plate? Even paper plates often have a thin plastic coating so they are usable, making them unsuitable for composting.
BioPlastics Aren’t Always Home Compostable
The diagram below is a good guide for compostable markings. So your compostable disposable coffee cup may appear to be a good way of avoiding waste but in reality you will end up throwing it in your black bag waste anyway. Just look at the temperature needed for industrial composting and a highly controlled environment – can you picture that in your back garden?
Is it a science? I reckon most definitely; to get a good idea of how to balance a good compost heap read here. Most DIY stores sell compost heap starter if you are at the beginning of your journey. I have a rabbit and his waste has proved to be a very good compost heap starting material! Although my compost heap is now a bit too much rabbit waste and not enough greenery after the winter. I need to mow the lawn!
My Sugarcane Compostable Party Supplies
I have been asked many times why I don’t sell cups. It is for the simple reason I haven’t found on that is home compostable yet. They all have bioplastic in them and need industrial composting. When I started Eco Infinity I felt very passionate that all party supplies sold should be home compostable. That party supplies should not have to enter mainstream waste collection.
I am sticking to that. Even though I could have a much bigger business with many more sales by now it will be abandoning my whole ethos for Eco Infinity. I hope you found this blog post useful. If you did a share on social media is always appreciated.