Soapbox: Ban the goody bag
They may be a birthday party staple, but this mum-of-two is saying goodbye to kids’ goodie bags
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