Zero Waste Birthday – How to celebrate your Birthday without waste

I wanted to share some ideas, how to celebrate a birthday, without producing too much waste.

Celebrations, like birthdays are a huge waste factor. Single use decoration, balloons, single use plates, cups and cutlery. Food and snacks out of packaging. Presents made from plastic, wrapped in wrapping paper.

That’s a lot!

My daughter turned 4 this autumn. We went to my mum, in Germany, to celebrate her birthday.  I wanted my mum to have the opportunity to celebrate her granddaughter birthday. Last year we went to America, to celebrate it with my in-laws.

Obviously I know flying is not very zero waste. Unfortunately we live in between our families. One day, I need to find a solution but for now we have to live in Edinburgh and our families all over the world. So we have to fly, to see our families!

Short distant flight can be tackled without the need to buy packed food and drinks. Producing no waste on long distant flights is almost impossible with a child.

In Germany, We had a great time, with way too much cake for the few people of us. We made plum-cake from all the plums in my mums garden. My mum made a beautiful birthday table with flowers from her garden. She used to make me a birthday table, on my birthdays and that always made me feel very special. It was nice to see that happening to my daughter.

I choose some toys from a toys shop in Germany. They were unpacked toys, from natural materials. I also ordered an organic Apple Park doll, last time I was in America. I hide it at home, until my daughter’s birthday. I left some presents(books, a toy cat and a baking set) in Edinburgh, to safe on luggage space.

We invited my grandma and my great-aunt for coffee and cake. My grandma bought some old German children’s books, that I used to like. That was a very nice present. My great-aunt bought some lovely clothes and a piggy bag, which my daughter loved. It was a very nice birthday.

Back home in Edinburgh, we had our own little party, with all the presents that we didn’t take with us to Germany. I wrapped the books in paper and tied them with a nice cotton ribbon, that I found in TK Maxx. The ribbon was on a wooden spindle. I decorated the room nicely with a homemade bunting. I used my mums and grandmas old table-cloth to decorate our table. I made a number cake, decorated with bulk smarties. We have a GOKI birthday candle holder, which we bought on her first birthday. I used a beeswax candle, that came in a tin. I also sew a birthday crown and a fairy wand from old clothes, to make it more special.


The whole birthday table looked rather nice, but was  definetely missing my mum’s flowers. We enjoyed having our own little party and opening the remaining presents.

I don’t think my daughter was missing out just because we had a zero waste birthday and didn’t buy any plastic toys etc. She loves the books I bought in a charity shop and wasn’t upset that I didn’t have wrapping paper. She liked that I draw love hearts on hr paper. Next year we are having an organised kids birthday party with all her nursery friends. I’m sure I will be able to organize the party, without producing waste.

You can celebrate a birthday without creating tonnes of waste. If you shop smart, you can make a cake without producing landfill waste. Decorate with items you already have or use scraps and pieces to create your own decoration. You can make you own homemade party food and serve it on reusable plates and cutlery, otherwise rent some from a party service. You can ask your guests not to bring plastic toys and to bring used items that are still in great condition.

Youse your mind and creativity for a lovely birthday party!







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