Children’s birthday parties are colorful, happy, full of fun, laughter, loud music and screams of joy. There are gifts given, return gifts received, and prizes won. Then there is candy, popcorn, decoration and, of course, balloons.
Balloons are very attractive to a child. They fly high in the sky, look like they are going up to heaven, but all they do is bring momentary joy and land in oceans, ending up killing turtles, dolphins, other marine life. They pollute our lands and choke birds and stray animals. Is our momentary happiness at the cost of another life, real happiness?
Despite knowing that balloons are non-biodegradable and non-recyclable, parents continue to use them. Candy is wrapped in non-recyclable plastic. Most gifts are made of horrible toxic plastic ultimately generating tonnes of non-degradable waste, and are wrapped in glossy paper, wasting another valuable resource, i.e., paper. Even if paper can be recycled—not all will be, nor all can be. As for the glitter and graffiti, they go straight into our landfills and oceans.
Parents must celebrate their child’s special day with responsibility towards the environment to ensure that their children have a future to look forward to. Parents teach us to eat, to walk and talk. We are taught to take care of our toys, clothes, our room and not to break things in our homes etc. Similarly, we, the children, must be taught not to destroy our environment bit by bit.
If each parent were to plant and nurture ten trees each year on their child’s birthday, we would be able to reduce our climate crisis to a great extent. Nurturing is very important, anyone can plant a seed, but to ensure that a sapling grows into a tree is the kind of love we need. This way, the children, too, will learn to give back to Mother Nature, and protect and preserve her.
We have to live and share our planet with all the other species. This planet is our only home. There is #NoPlanetB. Each one of us has to live on this planet and be responsible for it.
Children are like soft clay and can be easily moulded into responsible human beings. Kids feel a sense of power when they are given a responsibility to protect something. We should encourage them to protect our animals, marine life and our planet. Sustainability is not just awareness; it is a lifestyle, a mindset, a consumer behavior.
Here are a few simple steps to celebrate birthdays that would, in turn, help celebrate our planet:
Parents in a locality can also create a crockery bank with steel plates, glasses, spoons, and a bank of wooden/metallic/cloth/paper decorations and other party items. These can be borrowed for use, by all in the locality. People can add other special items to their own parties. This will help with green celebrations. Segregation of waste at parties is also important, after the party, send dry waste for recycling and wet waste for composting.
Birthday parties are filled with fun and friendship. So let’s encourage all the children to make a new friend: our planet, our lifelong friend.