Thursday, May 27, 2010

Eco-Savvy Showers

By Helen Coronato

Many pregnancies are accompanied by a baby shower. In this age of greener consciousness, why not opt for an ecologically friendly shower? Eco-showers are the latest green trend to add momentum to the movement toward freedom from carbon emissions, as environmentally savvy women look for ways to host parties that honor the mother-to-be and Mother Earth with greener gift registries, reusable party decorations, and more meaningful activities and rituals.

You’re probably already doing your daily best to reduce, reuse, and recycle. But when it comes to celebrating special occasions, it’s all too easy to fall back on old, wasteful standbys: paper plates, plastic cutlery, paper streamers, and plastic party favors. Add to that the usual tons of boxed, wrapped, beribboned presents, and you have the makings of an eco-mess. It’s time to stop doing what we’ve always done, and start embracing new ideas for entertaining.

First things first: Baby showers are not about who can buy the biggest plastic toy, but about celebrating the beautiful new life about to be born, and the proud parents who are bringing that life into the world. While it’s traditional to head to the store for everything from invitations to thank-you notes, remember that all of these items will soon be headed for the landfill.

Fortunately, throwing the perfect green gala for baby and mother is easier—and less expensive— than you might think. We can celebrate special occasions without having to sacrifice our good intentions. In researching my book Eco-Friendly Families (Alpha, 2008), I discovered green alternatives for all sorts of special occasions. For this article, I’ve given a twist to the basic components of the time-honored baby shower: friends, food, fun, favors, family. If you’re planning on hosting a shower for a mother-to-be— or if you’re that mother—plan on honoring Mother Earth at the same time.

Green Your Guest List

How you spread the word about an upcoming baby eco-shower can help set the tone. Of the waste generated in the US, paper is at the top of the list, and one of the biggest sources of paper waste has your name written all over it: mail. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paper products account for more than 40 percent of our trash. Help shrink paper waste by sending your invitations online. Invitation services such as are free, easy to use, and make keeping track of who has responded as easy as a click of the mouse. If some of your guests don’t have e-mail, send a simple invitation printed on recycled and recyclable paper.

From what to bring to the type of gifts to choose, you can make this shower the sort of event that people look forward to by giving clear, concise information that will intrigue, not annoy. You may be the consummate ecologically minded host who looks forward to honoring your friend, sister, daughter—or yourself—with a party that’s close to perfect, but don’t assume that everyone knows what an eco-shower is. So along with all the information announced on your invitation, be sure to include the event’s green theme. Here’s a good start: “Please join us for Anna’s Eco-Baby Shower. In keeping with Anna and her family’s commitment to the environment, we kindly ask that you consider the enclosed instructions when planning to join us for this special occasion. We look forward to seeing you and celebrating Anna!”

As you gather your tribe in celebration, do so with an eye toward organization and participation. Decide on your theme, then ask each guest to contribute to your eco-vision. List websites and local sources for such specialty items as cloth diapers, organic clothing and linens, and handmade, fair-trade gifts. Explore with the expectant mama the option of an eco-friendly registry, and if she agrees, include that information as well (see sidebar, “Green Gifts Online”).

Issue 150

September/October 2008

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