- At my kid’s graduation parade, I suggested giving out rocks and money.
- Plastic toys are harmful to the environment. I want to make sure my kid has a planet to live on.
- I wish more parents would join me in giving kids absolutely nothing at parties.
For my daughter’s birthday, I baked two cakes: one so she could blow out candles during a pandemic and one for guests. During the party, the kids played hide-and-seek, and when they left, I gave a cheery, “Thank you for coming!” and “It was so fun!” My daughter gave them hugs.
Despite my desire to be a capital-letters Good Mom, I didn’t provide party favors.
When the pandemic disrupted my daughter’s kindergarten, parents organized a drive-thru graduation, and one mother suggested gifts. The kids had missed so much, she said, let’s shower them with presents. She would label a bag for each child, and we could all add gifts.
I brainstormed with my daughter, “What if we bring rocks and money? How would you feel about that?” We had smooth stones that we’d found at the beach and a jar of change. Kids love rocks and money!
“Fun,” she said.
At the graduation, my daughter and I added rocks and coins to each fancy bag. Later, she told me she’d been embarrassed. Later still, we watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” and I laughed in shame as adults gave Charlie Brown rocks instead of candy.
Clearly, I had missed the mark. But I still stand against party favors.
Plastic toys are bad for the environment
Single-use plastic toys create an hour of fun, and then they get stepped on or shoved under beds. While some parents hate them, party favors have become a cultural nicety.
But the answer can’t be buying the expected trinket or creating a socially acceptable alternative. With the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning of a dystopian future, we must reconsider all purchases, including party favors.
Some kids have too many toys anyway. My daughter’s room is a tangle of yarn, rocks, sticks, beads, Barbies, Hatchimals, and stuffed animals. Party favors get absorbed into the ruckus, and when we clean her room, she doesn’t know what to do.
The environment is paying the price
The most difficult truth about party favors is that we’re giving them to children instead of a sustainable future. Here’s a yo-yo and a plastic kitten. Sorry about climate change.
Most toys are made from plastic, and plastic is made from oil, a process that creates greenhouse gas. Toys are transported by barge to the United States, stressing out whales and polluting the seas. Finally, they’re purchased, gifted, played with for a few days, and thrown away. While the plastic toy disappears from our homes, they can remain on Earth for about 400 years, leaching chemicals into soil or flowing into the ocean.
By giving children everything, we’re harming their habitat.
In place of party favors, I wish more parents would join me in giving the present of absolutely nothing. Children will have fun at any party because parties are fun, parents will save money, and there will be fewer plastic doodads to step on.
Hopefully, I can nudge our culture toward more mindful, sustainable consumption.
Sari Fordham is a writer, professor, and environmental activist. She is the author of a monthly newsletter, Cool It: Simple Steps to Save the Planet, which she designed for busy people who care about the climate crisis.
Courtesy By INSIDER