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Category: Eco-Friendly

Pokemon Party

Our city holds their annual Independence Day celebrations the day before the official holiday. The fireworks from this celebration can be seen from my back yard. Instead of dealing with the crowds at the official party we hold our own and invite our friends to join us. Originally we decked the yard out in the red, white, and blue decor typical of patriotic events. A few years back we decided to try some different themes. This year’s theme was Pokemon.

Before we get to the “fun” stuff I’d like to point out some helpful products we used to minimize the amount of trash we made at the party. We used regular cutlery like we outlined in this post. We also had compostable wooden cutlery (also mentioned in the linked post) as backup. One of the highlights of our party is the ice cream my husband makes. We portion it out before the event to streamline serving the 30-50 people who drift in and out that night. This year we found and used these compostable cups with lids and they worked very well. All of our compost goes to Roots Compost and we prepare them for the overflow we have on special occasions. We used paper straws and reusable cups that I washed and stored away for next year. Everything that could be recycled was and everything that could be composted also was.

I try to make some fun decorative foods for people to try. This year I ordered small edible images for cupcakes and I found a picture on Pinterest from this blog of yellow peep bunnies made to look like Pikachu. I also ordered Pokemon gum.

I really should have used a bit more icing on my cupcakes but it was so hot that I didn’t want a huge mess. The peeps were decorated using melting wafers and I did not bother making them into pops as the original link did but they were extremely popular and very easy. The hardest part was finding peep bunnies off season.

Photo props are always fun for parties. I ordered a bunch of masks for the guests to play with and we made a prop card with the picture part cut out.

The one decoration I worked the hardest on was the collection of paper lanterns. I had seen a pin of Pokemon lanterns and decided I needed to give them a try. I found a pack of paper lanterns in assorted sizes and colors and picked Pokemon that were naturally those colors. My daughter let me borrow her Pokemon book for inspiration.

The night was beautiful and the guests enjoyed finding the various Pokemon out “in the wild.” We’re also fortunate that there are a number of stops within walking distance from our home so everyone could manage their daily spin and catch during the festivities. If only trading and friends had been implemented then!

In the News

The other day I was scrolling through Instagram (oh, come on, we all do it!) and happened to watch an Instagram story by the Kensington Royal.   It’s an Instagram devoted to stories about the younger royals.  Yes, yes,  I know.  I love stories about the Royal family.   I’ll blame that on my mom.  This story happened to feature the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange.

Now, why am I talking about a fashion show put on by the Royal family in London?  In this case, it’s because of their commitment and focus on environmentally friendly practices and handcrafts that brings it to my attention.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General and Eco Age (a marketing firm focused on sustainability) paired together designers and people around the Commonwealth to show the human potential of fashion.  53 countries were represented, with handcrafts and materials from those countries used in the finished products.

One of my favorite looks came from a collaboration between a New Zealand fashion designer and heritage artisans from the Cook Islands.  They used techniques in the fabric that they use in marriage quilts, which are made by families for brides.  The mixture of the old and new of so many of the pieces was really amazing.

The other reason I wanted to highlight this particular party was the use of so many sustainable items in the party itself.  They reused plinths from old BBC sets to put the mannequins on.  The mannequins had paper flower headdresses and those were made from recycled materials.  The mannequins themselves were made of sugar cane, which is biodegradable.

I enjoyed seeing an event with such a focus on a sustainable future!

Eco-Friendly Events – Cutlery

One of our priorities at the Crafty Coop is to be as environmentally conscious as possible when planning our events. Our personal events have evolved as we’ve learned more about how plastic impacts us all on a global scale. Single use plastics should be the absolute court of last resort when doing anything – not just when hosting events. Are we perfect? No. But we’re working hard every day to learn more and do better. We will use this blog to help share what we learn along the way and hopefully inspire some of you to make simple changes with big impact.

When throwing events at home I’ve struggled with how to feed more people than I have cutlery for. I admit to using plastic cutlery for events in the past. You might even see photos from older events with colorful plastic cutlery. I made a simple change to eliminate that need. I went to our local Savers and picked up a variety of mismatched stainless steel cutlery to use when we have more guests than place settings. The second hand settings were inexpensive; I won’t be sad if an overzealous helper tosses one by accident at a barbecue. They are also far sturdier than even the highest quality plastic choices. I can dress them up to match any occasion with colorful (and compostable) napkins and paper rings or baker’s twine:

As consumers we need to make renting place settings popular again. Pay someone to wash the dishes at your local venue. My hope is the more we ask to use real cutlery the more venues will return to offering these services.

Sometimes there isn’t really any other option but to use something disposable. When that happens it is important to think about where your trash is headed after the party. I’ve been experimenting with my family and friends to get an idea of the products available and their merits vs limitations and these two are the best I’ve found depending on your circumstances:

Do you have access to a commercial compost facility? If you don’t know what that means then odds are you don’t. Not a lot of people do yet in America. We’re fortunate here in Haverhill. I have a service called Roots Compost that picks up my home compost weekly. Some of the most progressive cities in Massachusetts provide curbside composting but in light of the ban on food waste about half of the municipalities have compost sites available.

If you do have access to a commercial facility then I recommend this PLA cutlery. PLA is a plant based plastic, and what we use for our 3D printed projects, that breaks down in a commercial composting facility. This won’t break down appropriately if tossed in your regular trash and sent to a landfill or if put in your backyard compost. The cutlery is well made and if not for the “100% compostable” imprint on the handle – almost indistinguishable from its plastic counterparts.  They have an upper temperature limit so if you’re serving super hot foods these might not be an option. We had some break during use but not many. I’ve had similar results with typical plastic cutlery.

If you don’t have a facility for compost then consider this wooden option. They aren’t fancy but they are useful. They don’t have the heat limits of PLA. This form factor is sturdier than some of the ones modeled after typical cutlery. We didn’t have any breakage when we used these. The one complaint we heard was that it seemed like “eating with a tongue depressor.” Not all of my guests felt this way but it was a deal breaker for a few. We gave those people our everyday forks instead.