I’m not sure when it happened that getting a new washing machine became more exciting than a new pair of shoes, or a relaxing activity meant hanging the washing out on the line, but here we are and I’m rolling with it.

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Father’s Day needn’t be a time to go overboard and get caught up in the consumerism of it all, but equally there’s some lovely, low waste ways to show a little appreciation for the important males in our life. Here’s a few ideas that might help you on your way:

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Celebrations are an integral part of life and rightly so – it’s important to celebrate the good people and good things! These days though, like so much in our modern, throw away day to day living, celebrating and in particular birthdays have come to be some of the most wasteful events of the year (along with conferences and festivals…) and we can find ourselves left with giant black plastic sacks of rubbish, uneaten food and unwanted gifts. And they’re pricey too! According to an article in the Guardian, some parents admit to spending £800 on their little one’s birthday bash, with £300 being the average cost. When broken down, it looks like this: extravagant parties include an entertainer for three hours at £435 (£145 an hour); catered food and drink for 30 at £3.95 a child (£118.50); hire of a hall at around £100; birthday cake £64.90 and party bags for everyone at £3.25 each add up to £97.50. Grand total: £815.90.

Whether it’s peer pressure from other parents or just wanting to please your child, I’d argue that it’s time to move (back) to a time when a game of pass the parcel and a homemade cake is enough, more than enough. This post aims to show how celebrating sustainably can be just as, if not more, joyful. Here’s some ideas to get you started…

Invitations

Paper invites just fill up other peoples’ homes and go straight in the bin immediately after the event (sometimes even before…). Yes, paper can be recycled (if free from glitter, grease, paint or dirt….) but I always opt for online invitations and thank you cards. I’m a big fan of Paperless Post where there’s a bunch of different options available – tick the ‘Free’ box option if you want something simple (note: you have to work quite hard to avoid creating a card that requires ‘coins’). If you did want to go for something tangible to send out, what about opting for plantable invites made from seeds? And remember, sometimes simple is ultimately what works best – for everyone. An email or a Whatsapp message with a sweet photo of your kid might just be the most efficient, sustainable option out there.

It’s time to move (back) to a time when a game of pass the parcel with a homemade cake is enough, more than enough

Location

Growing up, my parents always made us birthday parties at home – it’s all I’ve ever known and I – and my childhood friends – have fond memories of being sat cramped in my parent’s hallway, wishing the parcel would land on us and taking turns to have a whack on the homemade piñata. If you’re fortunate to have the space – and are OK with your home being overrun by small and often not so small people – nothing beats the intimate environment of a home. If this isn’t an option or if you don’t fancy the mess, why not support a local small business (here’s where I’ve got my eye on for one of our upcoming celebrations!), school or place of worship, or if the weather allows, take your party outdoors. What better location than the woods for kids to explore and run around in! If you are celebrating somewhere public, just be sure to check any legislation around this and remember to arrive early to clearly signpost your event.

Crockery

We have a set of these palm leaf plates, cups and bowls and have been bringing them out each birthday, year after year. Otherwise, it clearly depends on the age of your child but I don’t see any problem using proper plates, forks and knives – then just pop them in the dishwasher afterwards. cups and have a pen on hand to ask kids to write their name on it and keep it for the duration of the party – it’s incredible how otherwise they’ll just keep getting another one for every second slurp. Follow Food Bites for the cutest kid food inspiration. 

Decoration

I might make some very simple banners and string them up, plus we’ll use our staples of fairy lights, pom poms, painted paper chains and bunting that we bring out every year. Call me old fashioned but there’s something so lovely and nostalgic about packing up and bringing out the same decorations each year, almost ageing with your child. This year I also got some chalk paint and painted some boards to create more signs and we also have a simple white linen birthday crown we bring out each year that the birthday person gets to wear all day.

Balloons and party poppers are a no go for me, unless I’ve got some lurking at the back of a drawer from years ago. Ever noticed how toxic balloons taste when you blow them up? Plus, what goes up, must go down…Fresh flowers or greenery also make any party look pretty.

To Theme or Not to Theme

If you do want to go down the ‘themed’ route, then choose a theme that you think you can create easily with what you already own or can borrow – local Facebook groups are also great for acquiring some extra bits here. For me for example, being a crazy plant lady, makes a jungle themed party pretty ideal. Other ideas I come back to again and again are food related – breakfast parties or pizza parties are particular favourites around here. DIY pamper parties could also be a really nice idea.

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Wet wipes, first invented back in 1958 (yup, wet wipes are over 60 years old…) are absolutely everywhere these days. There are literally DOZENS of different types available – baby wipes, hand wipes, make-up wipes, kitchen wipes, surgical wipes, all kinds of anti-bacterial or cleaning wipes – pretty much any potentially ‘icky’ scenario, and you can find yourself a wet wipe. Wet wipes even have their own trade body and business convention.

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I think of all the places we were due to visit during our trip to Australia, Rottnest Island was the one I was most excited about. You talk to any Aussie person and they tell you you “HAVE TO VISIT ROTTO”, and certainly it’s somewhere that our Australian family have been visiting for years and years, ever since they were small children.

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Cloth nappies seem to be a topic that simultaneously overwhelm and fascinate many of us parents (maybe it’s because there are literally 5 different words you can use to refer to a reusable nappy!). If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’m extremely passionate about making cloth nappies mainstream. With Real Nappy Week around the corner, let’s dive in and start exploring – and breaking down – some of the most common myths that fly around regarding reusable nappies.

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Each week we share an illustration from the brilliant Nina Cosford – here’s todays!

PS. A Random Day In March and Dining Al-Desko

Earlier this week, we asked for some recommendations of sustainable maternity swimwear brands in preparation for the warmer weather and for a certain exciting upcoming trip… So many of you had a brand to share – here’s 6 of the best:

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