I don’t know about you, but I always came home with a ton of little party favors and such from school at this time of year, not to mention all the other holiday/seasonal parties, birthday parties, stocking stuffers, treats, freebies, etc. When you’re a kid, it can seem like you get something at everything you do.
As a mom, and a zero waste mom, this is a challenge.
I think it’s important to work on teaching your child (and yourself) to say no, thank you, to the freebies/party favors offered if they don’t need them. Theoretically declining these objects discourages the freebie practice, especially at work-related and networking events (do those pens ever work?). Saying no can be intimidating and uncomfortable for either or both parties, but I do think it’s something we can work towards. Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home has some helpful information on discouraging party favors.
Even as an adult refusing something is hard/awkward. I actually had push back with a restaurant when I tried to give back the “free” to-go utensil packets. They’re free so why wouldn’t I want them? I explained that I didn’t need the utensils and I wanted to give them back for reuse. Maybe I should have said I’m trying to save you money since I won’t use them, perhaps that point would have made more sense to them. I did mention it would be nice if there was a “no utensils” option on their ordering platform and today there is one. If I made that difference I’ll never know but it’s better now. Anyway…
If you do accept/are gifted these small items for whatever reason, you hit the jackpot in your Christmas stocking, or are cleaning out the playroom, Britany E. over at Simple Families: The Community has a super idea for what to do with these items: put them in a bowl as a food-free option at Halloween! So clever! This is a super easy way to collect allergy-free treats for Halloween in support of the Teal Pumpkin Project.
Over the last few months I’ve been setting aside toys and trinkets my kids have collected from the dentist and doctors office, birthday party favors, class party prizes, Fast food toys, etc. once my kids have “played” with them and forgotten about them. I put them out in a bowl next to the Halloween candy to hand out tonight and parents and kids have been loving it! Happy kids, toys reused, no cost to me, and none of it in a landfill for now -win-win! Happy Halloween!Post quote and photo, Simple Families: The Community, Brittany E., October 31, 2019, used with permission
So as you and your family make your holiday party rounds, empty out those stockings, party favor bags, or even do your annual clean-out for year-end, consider reuse ideas for even the smallest objects (since you’re already a recycling pro right?). They still have use. Refuse and Reuse are just as important “Rs” as Recycle, and more effective in many instances.