Suzanne Bertani and Suzanne Corrin share more than the same first name; they also share a strong eco-ethic. Both were stunned at the staggering amount of waste stemming from children’s birthday parties, along with the array of harmful chemicals and plastics contained in many children’s goodie bags and party favours. “You can walk into any store and buy a whole mash of plastic plates, decorations and tablecloths with duckies on them, but it doesn’t get used again, and it doesn’t make you feel good,” says Corrin.
Convinced that like-minded parents would appreciate an alternative to the throwaway party culture, the friends launched Green Planet Parties in late 2008. Since then, their collection of biodegradable tableware, reclaimed wooden cutlery, funky handmade decorations and sustainable party gifts has been a huge hit and a financial success. The duo began turning a profit after just nine months.
“The response has been incredible; we have clients from all across North America. Anybody that comes across us, gets us,” says Corrin. The two Suzannes source unique, practical items designed for people who are looking for convenience, but who also want to “tread a little gentler on the earth,” says Bertani. They seek out crafty stay-at-home moms in Canada and the U.S. to produce most of their inventory because “it’s the moms out there in small businesses that have really done an incredible job helping to protect our children with safe products.”
Tired of emptying loot bags packed with cheaply made toys straight into the garbage? Corrin and Bertani stuff goodie bags with stainless steel bowls, handmade bean bag toys, non-toxic nail polish and wooden sailboats with prices ranging from $1.95 for a twin pack of pencils made from recycled newpaper to $3.95 for B.C.-made wooden wands.
Complete pre-made loot bags come with a sustainable gift, a treat and a handmade cloth goodie bag for $7.50 to $12.50. Another big seller is the ‘1st birthday party’ bundle: a handmade ‘Happy Birthday’ banner (in cloth for $54.99 or felt for $28.95), table runner, set of napkins and goodie bags all made in the same fabric of choice. Corrin says parents are happy to invest in eco-friendly accessories that will become family heirlooms. The tableware can be used every year and not just for birthdays, since they’re not festooned with the cartoon character of the moment.
“Not only are you saving money because you haven’t repurchased a plastic tablecloth every year, but our stuff is multi-occasion: you can use it for a five-year-old or a 90-year-old. That’s something we’re very big on.” With six children between them, the moms have built-in focus groups, says Bertani. “Everything gets run by our children first; it’s been great having the boys to bounce stuff off of, because boys are the hardest to source for. It’s very tough to find goodie bag options that don’t have plastic or batteries.”
Green Planet Parties is starting to supply events of all kinds. “Everyone sees the waste, not just moms at birthday parties,” says Bertani. Customers have contacted her from New York, California, Puerto Rico and Spain. Corrin believes that entertaining at home is a great way to showcase your commitment to the earth. “You’re educating guests about a different way to throw a party and feel good about bettering the environment.”
For more information visit greenplanetparties.com.
Published in ParentsCanada magazine, May 2010.