Soapbox: Ban the goody bag

They may be a birth­day party sta­ple, but this mum-of-two is say­ing good­bye to kids’ goodie bags

NEXT (New Zealand) - - Contents - By Deb­bie Har­ri­son

TThe fol­low­ing rant may have a mas­sive im­pact on my fam­ily’s life. My pet peeve may re­sult in my chil­dren be­ing shunned from birth­day par­ties, with host­ing par­ents mut­ter­ing apolo­gies that they thought it best, given my be­liefs don’t re­ally fit in with their party plans. I apol­o­gise in ad­vance, Har­ri­son kids – your out­spo­ken mother may have you os­tracised. But it’s for the greater good. I promise!

We need to ban goodie bags from kids’ birth­day par­ties.

Yes, those nasty lit­tle Bob the Builder/ Dora/Peppa Pig plas­tic bags with the con­tents of a $2 Shop chucked in­side. To­day I tipped out the de­bris from a few goodie bags onto my kitchen bench. Two lol­lipops. A whis­tle (shud­der). Three stick­ers. Dice. Four bal­loons. A slinky. Jelly­beans wrapped in plas­tic. Five plas­tic toys that were prob­a­bly bro­ken be­fore they even got home. Bub­bles. In­di­vid­ual lol­lies. In short: junk.

I was a fan at first, too, trawl­ing Look Sharp for con­tents that would go down a treat among pint-sized par­ty­go­ers. I even went as far as track­ing down bags in the same hue as the dec­o­ra­tions be­cause Pin­ter­est said so!

But I’ve re­cently been work­ing with busi­nesses who are fly­ing the sus­tain­able flag and I’ve sat meekly in meet­ings where they’ve dis­cussed the im­pact of straws that don’t de­grade, how plas­tic never ever dis­ap­pears, and how con­sumerism is trash­ing our planet. Heck, even bal­loons aren’t ex­empt – it can take up to four years for one to de­grade.

Now that I’m con­scious of what we’re do­ing to the planet, I am def­i­nitely try­ing harder. Soft plas­tic is du­ti­fully taken back to the su­per­mar­ket for re­cy­cling. Eighty per­cent of the time I re­mem­ber to take my own bags (I’m a work in progress). We say no to McDon­ald’s toys when we or­der the kids a Happy Meal. We look for re­cy­clable or com­postable op­tions where pos­si­ble. We even bought a worm farm. (Kids, we got you 2000 pets!)

But why am I hell-bent on ban­ning goodie bags? Why can’t I let kids have just one day of fun and en­joy a party? (A catch­phrase I trot out when it comes to sugar-filled party treats.) Be­cause the waste-not-want-not in­side me cringes when I see plump fin­gers clutch­ing a brightly coloured bag at the end of a party. I know it’s filled with plas­tic, I know the kids will play with it for 30 sec­onds when they get home, then I’ll see gar­ish spin­ning tops, erasers and stick­ers ly­ing around the house for the com­ing year. I can’t up­cy­cle, pass on, or do­nate these things be­cause no one wants them!

I get it. You want your kid to have an epic party – one that they’ll rem­i­nisce about for­ever. You want their lit­tle guests to leave feel­ing like it was the best day ever. But you know what? When­ever I’ve asked my kids what their favourite part of a friend’s party was, not once have they ever said ‘the goodie bag’. Not once.

Be­yond the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, I feel like kids shouldn’t ex­pect presents all the time. Kids will en­joy the sim­ple plea­sures in life, if we just let them. Hang­ing out with their friends away from play­group/kindy/school, gorg­ing on treats, watch­ing the clown/ma­gi­cian/ Elsa/fairy, or what­ever your gig is – that’s the stuff of which a good day is made. You don’t need to buy their love, just give them a good time.

Cake in a nap­kin, any­one?

Kids will en­joy the sim­ple plea­sures

in life, if we just let them

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