Celebrating two more Birthdays zero waste style

Filed in Blog by on July 31, 2008 10 Comments
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making cards and tags

As I shared on Friday; July is a busy Birthday month here at Chez Green. It was Mr Green’s Birthday on Saturday, Little Miss Green’s cousin’s the following day, plus there were two children’s friends birthdays at the beginning of July.

This is the first time I’ve had to *do* Birthdays since being on the zero waste challenge and it’s been really interesting.

The two friend’s Birthday earlier on in the month, were pretty much a success regarding zero waste, but last weekend was a little more tricky.

Little miss green’s cousin and his family is not really into green things as far as I know, so that was my biggest challenge. I’m already thought of as a combination of bohemian, witch and hippy by the child’s dad, so this is where I definitely could NOT ransack the local charity shop, knit some yogurt, crotchet a pair of swimming trunks, buy an acre of rainforest or make a dinosaur wall hanging from old plastic bottles.

So I settled for clothes from a well known high street retailer that I know is approved of in their household. The goods arrived in a plastic bag which has been saved by me for future use but at least I know clothes are practical, will be used if liked, returned to the store and exchanged if not and hopefully, hopefully recycled when they have been outgrown. I do have hazy memories of my brother organising bags for charity shops in years gone by, so I’m hoping that still goes on. But as one commenter posted a while ago – we don’t have resonsibility for the actions of the recipient. All we can do is lessen any environmental impact with the choices we make.

Mr Green’s pressie was part thumbs up, part thumbs down. I bought him an electric scooter which came in a cardboard box wrapped in non-recyclable plastic (number 5) and polystyrene protective blocks. <sigh>

To add insult to injury it was stolen from our house before his birthday even arrived <siiiiiigh> so he hasn’t even had the benefit or enjoyment from it. Neither did the environment have time to benefit from less car use.

There is no point claiming on the insurance for it because it didn’t cost much more than the excess will be.

Little Miss Green decided she wanted to buy Daddy Green a cd and some chocolates. The cd (from Amazon) I thought was second hand, but it had been heat sealed in plastic, so perhaps it was new. You would not believe the packaging that came with it either. Even Pussus Green couldn’t believe her eyes. Ok, so most of it was cardboard and paper, but still; it’s was excessive for just one cd:
birthday present packaging

As for the chocolates, well, I can’t believe what I did really. I just bought the first ones I saw in our local Post Office which were After Eights. Can you believe that?!
Not only do they come with cellophane wrapping, but each chocolate comes in an individual sleeve, PLUS there is brittle non-recyclable packaging inside the box.
Doh! – I was stressed when I had to buy them m’lord and that’s all I can say in my defense. I’m one of the few women in the world who hates shopping at the best of times.
after eights - not zero waste

Mr Green seems to think the individual sleeves are paper and can be recycled, but they look a little plasticised to me. I’ll be calling the manufacturer this week to check.

He also has a secret collection of torches (not so secret now that I’ve just told the world about them I guess). He’s a Leo, he likes to be in the limelight, so I guess torches are his thing. Or maybe I am the light in his life, who knows.
I ordered *the* boys toy torch; the gadget for gadgety people, the lightest, brightest, funkiest torch, (which comes with rechargeable batteries, I was delighted to see) I could find. It arrived in a reusable jiffy bag wrapped in recyclable or reuseable bubble wrap. In fact, some parts of it were wrapped in newspaper, so I was very pleased.


Not the best shopping in the world, but I’m afraid I don’t do shopping. Cards and tags were home made and created with love. Little Miss Green and I reused old envelopes and had some lovely messy fun with collages and drawings. Inspired by Mrs A’s 40th Birthday presents, we wrapped the pressies in newspaper – a couple of them looked really good as we found just the right picture at the right size.
cd wrapped in newspaper

The Birthday (cheese)cake was home made with just a cream cheese pot to dispose of, the rest of it was zero waste – that’s not so bad is it?

And he doesn’t look a day past 25 either 😉
Mr Green celebrates his birthday

Happy Birthday Sweetheart; may your year be filled with wonder and may all your dreams manifest….. 🙂


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (10)

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  1. Little Shiva says:

    Oh, special occasions… I can relate! I’m not big on shopping new either (I do love me some thrift shops though), and I dread being on the receiving end of holiday gifts from anyone. It’s more about not wanting lots of STUFF than about the trash: what little STUFF I do have, I’d like to choose for myself thank you very much. But sometimes you just have to smile and say thanx. I like recycling STUFF I don’t want any longer by giving it as gifts to people I think would appreciate it, but as you said in your post, some people just aren’t down with that.

    Carnival submission coming right up…

  2. Ailbhe Leamy says:

    Nestle is definitely way down the zero waste scale!

    The True Food Co-op where we shop deals mainly in unpackaged goods – grains, dried goods, fresh veg etc are all unpackaged. It’s great for cutting down on recycling waste.

    Biona do a non-dairy non-soya marg but it still comes in nonrecyclable tubs. I’d prefer one wrapped in paper which I could reuse more easily.

  3. Hi Mrs Green,

    Belated congratulations to Mr Green, family and friends.
    Laziness and the environment seem odd bedfellows. When it comes to Birthdays/Christmas my standard is a cheque (paper), a card/envelope (card/paper), with no plastic wrapper since most card shops now give you a choice. That is the easy way but not always the best way.
    Joking aside, it seems scandalous that people are forced to make bad packaging choices simply because the suppliers of garments, leisure equipment, cakes and sweets feel no responsibility for their waste impact. Possibly the way ahead is for companies to pioneer sustainable practices and reap the benefit. That way special days can be enjoyed free of care, the way they should be.


  4. I’m so sorry about the stolen scooter…that is terrible!!!

    And happy birthday to Mr. Green. 🙂

  5. Happy Birthday Mr Green!

  6. The scooter theft was a shocker. Is this part of the ountryside scrap theft where any metal is taken for its basic commodity value.


  7. jen cleanbin says:

    Oh, that is terrible about the scooter. More so because he didn’t get to use it.

    Gifts are always a hard one. We’ve only had one so far, and I made finger paint as our gift -probably wouldn’t work so well for Mr Green since he’s over the age of 3!

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Little Shiva, lovely to see you here and thank you for the gorgeous carnival submission. I find it amazing how ‘things’ are so important to some, yet not to others. The rich tapestry of human nature I guess that makes us so diverse. 🙂

    Hi Ailbhe; this true foods co-op sounds really wonderful – can you buy coffee, salt and tea in there without packaging? John was asking about those items on another post.

    John, scooter theft – more than likely just kids doing that thing……

    Jen, how were the finger paints received? I think gifts for younger children is so much easier; they just love all sorts of treasures. One year I made cinnamon scented playdough for Christmas presents and that went down really well.

  9. Ailbhe Leamy says:

    Coffee – I can buy this unpackaged at the Workhouse Coffee Shop; the TFC doesn’t sell enough of it to store it loose. Coffee can’t be stored open for long, really.

    Tea – you can buy it in bulk and without any *plastic* but it still has cardboard packaging.

    Salt – No idea, it’s not something I buy.

    Olive oil and olives, honey, sugar, muesli, etc all come unpackaged. Toilet roll I can buy in bulk, which used to reduce packaging but now they have started packing every 4 within the bulk bag together, so I’m collecting that internal packaging and sending it back to them. Eggs come unboxed. The main thing for the TFC is fair trade and organic goods, but the packaging is a definite sideline – they used to send tetrapacks off for recycling before the council started doing it at the bottlebanks. Now they send batteries off. I must ask about other plastics, though I suspect the sorting involved with make it prohibitive – they rely on volunteer labour.

    Whose kids had a freecycle Christmas last year and loved it.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    It sounds like you have a wonderful resource with TFC, Alibhe. I guess the proper way with coffee is to buy beans and grind them. I believe coffee can be frozen; is this right?

    I’d love to hear more about your freecycle Christmas sometime…..

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