Greening a Baby Shower
Historically, baby showers were a way to “shower” a mommy-to-be with the practical items she would need during her pregnancy and after her baby was born. A green baby shower is one that honors this tradition of celebrating a new mom and baby while minimizing the gathering's impact on the planet. In most cases, a friend or family member will throw a baby shower for you to help celebrate your pregnancy and your new baby. If that's the case, bookmark this chapter and hand it over to your host so they will have all of the tools they need to plan a green event.
The Oregon Environmental Council (www.oeconline.org) has put together an online green baby shower kit with tons of resources to help you plan an eco-savvy party. And while many of the vendors listed are specific to the Portland, Oregon, area, you can utilize many of the tips for party planning and preparations no matter where you live.
You don't have to break the bank on so-called eco-friendly food, decorations, and presents. The essence of a green baby shower is to keep things simple and gentle on the planet. Look for ways to minimize waste and conserve resources throughout the party planning process.
Whether you send them by mail or over the web, you will need to send out invitations to any guests who you want to attend your shower. The invitation should include all of the pertinent details of the party (who, what, where, when) as well as details about the “theme” of the event.
There are a number of great eco-savvy choices when it comes to inviting guests to a green baby shower. The greenest method is to send evites (www.evite.com), or e-mail invitations. Evites can be customized with the colors, styles, and pictures of your choosing, and sending them in lieu of paper invites conserves resources and reduces waste. Another green option is to send invites made from green materials such as recycled content paper, bamboo, sugar cane, or plantable paper, which is paper that contains embedded flower seeds, after the invitation is used, the recipient can plant it in a garden.
The initial invitation is a great place to let shower guests know about the mother-to-be's desire to go green. Either by politely asking for second-hand or nontoxic gifts or by listing the eco-retailers where she is registered, you can help your guests prepare for the shower accordingly.
If the baby shower will be held in your home or in the home of a friend or family member, you will have more control over the shower's environment. Prepare for the party by cleaning with nontoxic household cleaning products. Use vinegar and hot water to clean counters, bathrooms, and tables. Wet-mop floors to remove toxins that have been brought in on shoes. If weather permits, open windows for a few hours before the party begins, to reduce the amount of toxins in indoor air. During the party, set up recycling bins for glass, plastic, and aluminum beverage containers near trash cans so that you guests will be more likely to use them.
Avoid waste by thinking conservatively when planning the quantity of food to serve guests. You will save a bundle of time and money in food preparation and cleanup. Be sure to donate any extra nonperishable items to your local food shelter. And wrap up leftovers for your guests in wax paper or non-PVC cling wrap.
If possible, use reusable dishes, utensils, and cloth napkins while entertaining guests. If you do need to use paper products, look for ones that are compostable or made from recycled paper. Rent or borrow items that you won't need more than once, like large punch bowls, chaffing dishes, or insulated beverage containers.
Keep the foods simple and green by serving dishes made from local ingredients. If your shower will be catered, ask the chef to do the same. Serve organic fruit juices and filtered water from a pitcher.
Skip the paper and plastic and decorate with natural items from your backyard such as plants, flowers, and pine cones. If you use a florist, ask the staff to use flowers that have been grown locally and without pesticides. Use soy candles in recycled glass jars or used baby food containers.
There are lots of fun activities you can do at a baby shower that are easy on the planet and reinforce the green theme. Here are a few ideas:
Make a mobile: Ask your guests to bring a “favorite thing” that has been in their home or has special meaning, to be hung on a mobile for the new baby. You can incorporate a theme, such as love or ocean, to help guide your guests' choices. Use recycled materials such as ribbons or pieces of foil molded into shapes to provide color and reflect light.
Create a tee: Purchase new or gently used organic baby T-shirts and have guests decorate with soy-based paints. Use an organic T-shirt or baby blanket as a guest book for shower attendees to inscribe special messages or thoughts to the new mom.
Add-a-bead: Ask each guest to bring a bead to string onto a bracelet that the new mom can wear during labor and after her baby's birth to remind her of her circle of support.
Choose activities that match the interests of the mom-to-be and the interests and desired activity-level of the party guests.
To minimize waste and make sure your guests stay happy, go for ecofriendly party favors such as consumables (cookies, cupcakes, or other baked goods are always a hit as are plants or flowers) or reusables (picture frames or art supplies). Check out Creative Baby Shower Ideas (www.creative-baby-shower-ideas.com) for ideas on making simple, eco-savvy baby shower party favors.