Single-use plastic: Eco party packs help cut plastic waste

Primary schools are tackling plastic waste at children‘s birthday parties by hiring out reusable tableware.

Jo Harris set up an initiative to reduce the amount of disposable plates, bowls and cups at parties in Cardiff.

The parent-teacher association at her children‘s school, Roath Park Primary, now offers parents an “eco party pack”.

The idea is being taken up by other schools in the city as a way of cutting back on single-use plastics and raising funds.

Mrs Harris, 42, from Roath, who has three children and is the PTA co-vice chair, said: “I started the eco party pack about a year ago when my son had a birthday party, because previously, lots of plastic ended up in the bin and I thought it was a waste.

“I sent the idea to some parents at the school and they liked the idea.

“Now it has expanded to the rest of the school.”

Parents can hire the reusable tableware in exchange for a donation to support the PTA and replace items if they get broken.

They are also able to add to the collection if they wish, which currently consists of 50 cups, 61 plates, 21 small bowls, two serving platters and two jugs.

So far, it is estimated the pack has saved about 500 each of disposable plates, cups and bowls from ending up in landfill.

“I think the more people who hire, or start their own eco party packs, the better, because single-use plastics last much longer in landfill than the amount of time they are used for,” said Mrs Harris.

“It gives a message to our children that we care about their planet and they should too.

“My daughter is proud of me for doing this, and recognises how important it is to reduce single-use plastic for the environment.”

Anna Cozens, 38, is a mother of two from Roath and hired the eco party pack.

She said: “I hired it out because I didn‘t want to use a load of paper plates and plastic cups that would go to waste.

“I noticed a lot less waste because the party I hired it out for had 25 children, so we would have gone through a lot of paper plates and plastic cups.

“All we had to do was wash it up and return it to be used again – we‘ve hired it out to use again in two weeks for my son‘s birthday.”

Since eco party packs at Roath Park Primary School received praise on social media, the idea has spread.

Half a mile from Roath Park Primary School, Marlborough Primary School now also has its own eco party pack.

Germaine Walsh, 43, from Penylan, is co-secretary of Marlborough Primary School‘s PTA in Roath.

She started a pack last month after seeing the idea on social media.

Ms Walsh said: “Parents try doing the right thing by teaching their children to help the environment, but it is often forgotten at birthday parties because single-use plastics are convenient.

“I posted it on Facebook and found that a lot of people wanted to do the same thing in other primary schools.

“I hope it starts a movement so that children don‘t take single-use plastics for granted.”

A spokesman from Keep Wales Tidy said: “We would like to congratulate schools working to reduce the use of single-use items. It is great that they looking at making changes within the wider community.

“We know that many of Cardiff‘s schools are working at tackling plastic.”

It said some of the projects included stopping the use of straws with drinking milk, and plastic-free Fridays discouraging children from bringing single-use items in lunch boxes.