How your baby shower can be a gift to the environment. Green ideas for the party, the registry and beyond.
There's nothing like a burgeoning new life to make you consider the planet's future. So as friends and relatives prepare to shower you with baby gifts, it's natural to want the greenest items possible. But attaching heavy-handed preconditions to your baby shower could cause the event to seem more like a sermon than a celebration.
One graceful way is to make the environment its theme. An invitation that says, "We're welcoming Lola's baby by making her shower organic and waste-free!" invites guests to join in. Don't spell out a list of no-no's, but do let your guests know what being green means to you.
Because "green" can signify wildly different things to different people, offer the hostess a few suggestions and let her decide what feels right, whether it's serving locally produced food, composting leftovers or having the guests join in a craft like decorating organic cotton bodysuits with stencils, stamps and fabric paints. Some of the greenest choices can be cheaper than the alternative, such as using real dishware, linens and cutlery instead of disposables, or decorating with infant clothes and toys hung on a clothesline instead of buying balloons and streamers. If the hostess can't face washing up, encourage her to use plates and cutlery made of recycled paper or plant-based plastic.
Three Faces of Green
When Melissa Diglio of Chicago was pregnant, she received three showers in varied shades of green. Diglio's friends, who knew about her eco-consciousness, held her shower during Earth Hour, an annual event when people worldwide switch off lights to call attention to global warming. The party was lit by LED lanterns and featured presents wrapped in burp cloths and blankets instead of paper.
"People got into it because it was something they could act on," Diglio says. At the showers given by her mom and mother-in-law, the menus weren't organic and there was plenty of throwaway gift wrap, but because she had registered for eco-friendly gifts, almost everything she received met her green criteria.
Green baby items can be more expensive than their conventional counterparts, so include some lower-cost items on your wish list. And let guests know if hand-me-downs are OK. Hilary Altman of Oakland, Calif., threw a shower for a couple who preferred secondhand gifts. Some guests ignored the request, while others were delighted. "Some people were like, 'Great, instead of spending $100 on one thing, I can go to the thrift store and spend $100 to outfit the baby for a year,' " Altman says.
No matter how specific your requests, you'll still end up with presents that don't make the green cut. When you can't exchange a gift, donate it to a mom-oriented charity. If the item is too toxic to pass on, such as a teether that contains phthalates, dispose of it responsibly.
Then sit down with some recycled paper note cards and start writing those thank-you notes.
These sites sell only green products:
The Soft Landing (thesoftlanding.com)
The Ultimate Green Store (theultimategreenstore.com)
Our Green House (ourgreenhouse.com)
Chain stores with green items:
Babies "R" Us (BabiesRUs.com)
These sites let you ask for nonmaterial gifts, such as babysitting:
Alternative Gift Registry (alternativegiftregistry.org)
My Registry (myregistry.com)