How to style a party that’s kind on the planet

REduce waste

When it comes to hosting a celebration, whether it be a birthday, wedding or other special event, most of us love a bit of colour and festivity. But before you rush out and buy some balloons, Cass Gaisford has some top tips for styling a party that’s kinder on the planet. 

Balloons have long been a staple decoration at parties, but how often do we actually think about what happens to these balloons once the party is over?

balloons in the sky

What’s wrong with balloons anyway?

When balloons are released into the air or pop and land on the ground, the plastic waste ends up making its way into our waterways and oceans.

An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year, with balloons being rated as one of the top three most harmful pollutants that threaten marine wildlife.

Did you know that many marine animals such as mammals, birds and turtles actively select balloons as food, mistaking them for their regular sea snacks such as seaweed or jellyfish?

turtle with rubbish on its leg

When turtles ingest balloons they can cause internal blockages, which can lead to starvation, choking or internal injuries. They can also create pockets of air, preventing them from being able to dive. More than 1000 turtles die from ingesting plastic each year.

The non-biodegradable plastic clips and ribbons used to string up balloons also pose a threat to dolphins and birds who can become entangled in them.

Unfortunately, even the “biodegradable” balloons can take more than a year to disintegrate in waterways and oceans, which can still cause harm to wildlife.

How to style a party with eco-friendly decorations

Fortunately, there are fun, easy and inexpensive eco-friendly ways to style up the room and the turtles, dolphins and birds will love you for it.

Here are some festive alternatives to balloons that will add a bit of extra colour and a touch of class to your next soiree…

KIds at a party underneath tissue paper pom poms
Tissue decorations and garlands

Decorations created from tissue paper make for beautiful decorative pieces and can be hung in bunches or placed as table centrepieces.  Tissue paper pompoms are a simple switch from the balloon-style decorations and can be tied up with eco-friendly string or twine.

The best thing about tissue decorations is they can be used over and over again, and depending on you and your family’s creative energy levels can easily be made at home.

There are many Youtube videos tutorials on quick and simple ways to make tissue paper pompoms, garlands and other tissue decorations. All you need is a pair of scissors, wire and tissue paper.

Tissue paper can be bought online, at your local craft shop, or at Kmart, Big W, Spotlight and Officeworks. Or even better, reuse the tissue paper packaging you’ve kept from your recent purchases.

If you decide to DIY your own decorations, your unique arrangements could also become a great talking piece at your next event.

But if you’re feeling a bit lazy or you don’t have time to make your own tissue paper decorations, you can purchase them ready made online or instore at party supply shops, or department stores such as Kmart, Big W and Spotlight. There is a great range of colourful tissue pompoms, flowers, tassels and garlands available to choose from.

Fabric bunting in tree
Other eco-friendly party decorations

The author

Cass Gaisford

Cass is a Project Manager and Landscape Architect within the Oxley Creek Transformation project team. Cass is passionate about creating wonderful green open spaces for both human and wildlife communities.

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