Saturday, March 24, 2007

Birthday excess

The environmentalist in me is trying not to freak out over the excesses of a 4th birthday.

I had purchased a set of Cars partyware—plates, cups, etc—only to discover we have enough leftovers of Thomas items to handle tomorrow’s family party. Not too disturbing for me since everything is paper, and I know that it will biodegrade. We’ll use the Thomas stuff tomorrow; it goes with the cake and a balloon we have (another item I feel pangs about—but we won’t be releasing it and it’s a sort that can be refilled multiple times and played with around the house). The rest of the party items can be used for our smaller party on his birthday-proper. So most of my environmental guilt is soothed on that.

Then there has been a request for wrapping paper. We kept the gift bags and even the tissue paper from last year, so those are getting some reuse. I had already bought a little “Chinese takeout” style box and decorated it with birthday stickers. That holds a couple small items and will be gift wrap we use again. But I ended up buying a roll of wrapping paper and one bow (for some present that is too large to wrap) today. Again, not enthusiastic, but I consider it reasonable.

Finally, there are the gifts themselves. The child already has way more toys than he needs, but he will have no lack of gifts for this birthday. It works out well that we’re celebrating twice. Tomorrow he’ll get items from Trillian’s parents and grandmother, along with one small item from us. The rest of our gifts and the presents my mother sent (it’s the second time she’s managed to get something to us in time for his birthday) will wait until our second party. I don’t know everything he will get, but there will certainly be more plastic and “made in China” labels than I would like.

We were able to steer at least one present in a better direction. A request was made for us to procure a wagon. This was not exactly what we wanted, but we at least managed to find one online at Canadian Tire that had a metal base and wooden sides. Of course, when we got there, it turned out that the website’s claim of “In Stock” at that particular store meant “On Permanent Back Order.” The other options were plastic, and we really didn’t want a plastic wagon. So we made an executive decision and headed to a store that had some toys we knew we wanted to get for Scooter. At exactly the same price as the wagon we had been sent for was a parking garage from Plan Toys. These toys are made of responsibly managed rubberwood and will fit in with many of Scooter’s other toys—Matchbox cars can drive on the wooden garage as well as anything else.

On the plus side, I only ended up with one plastic bag in all of my errands. And I can try to take solace in the fact that birthdays (and Christmas) and their attendant excess are limited to a very small part of the year. Little by little, what I can manage. This year is better than last, and next year will be better still (especially as Scooter begins to understand recycling and such better and I can make an ally of him).


Laural Dawn said...

We're gearing up for my son's 3rd birthday. I'm finding the exact same thing - way too much excess. We're inviting a ton of kids to his party and we kind of want to say no gifts (not exactly fair). He just has so much already.
The whole environmental thing ... we really just started seriously recycling. But, I see what you mean.

Lisa b said...

I know how you feel about the paper plates.
Here's my excuse -if I deny her fun things when she is older will rebel by rejecting all my eco ideas.
I really think you have done your best on all counts. I had not heard of Plan Toys. I'm going to look them up. Hope you have a great party. I'd love to see a shot of the cake.