Let’s Party
Without Plastic!

Mikaela Walsh, 4ocean Research Analyst

Let's put an end to single-use plastic! Especially for unnecessary uses!

Celebrating birthdays and holidays is always an exciting time that beckons for party decor. But at what cost? When setting up for an occasion, people commonly will use balloons, glitter, and disposable plastic debris one time that goes in the trash right after the event concludes. Party decor is supposed to be glitz and glam, but there is a more efficient way to celebrate than by putting the environment in danger. Let’s talk about the effects of party supplies and some alternative party decor ideas that are just as good and environmentally safe!

Glitter is aesthetically pleasing, but in all honesty, it is impossible to clean and remove properly! When we think of microplastic, we usually think of microbeads or plastic debris that have broken down in the ocean, but glitter is purposely designed as a microplastic! It serves no purpose other than to add a little sparkle to a table despite sight, the little use it has because of the mess anyway. Glitter is appealing at first but has detrimental effects on the environment. It is mainly made of polyester, which can take up to 200 years to decompose. Nowadays, there are many better and more environmentally safe options for plastic glitter, like decomposable or edible glitter.


Another favored party decor is balloons. Yes, they look appealing and make a fun environment, but recently, they have been costly and ineffective. These balloons only remain floating for a few days, and after they are popped, they go straight into the trash and potentially end up in the ocean. Sea birds, sea turtles, and many other marine organisms have fatal consequences to balloons due to the soft plastic material that these are made of. Many times, these animals will think a floating balloon is a jellyfish or a food source and eat it, only to face harmful effects later on. Sea turtles show a trend towards eating balloons due to their rubber material. Balloons are entertaining and decorative but have very harsh effects on our environment and wildlife that tragically mistake them for food.


Another issue that coincides with the use of balloons is their plastic string. Commonly, the strings and balloons get tangled together to make a clump of plastic debris that gets stuck in the ocean currents and could make it appealing to marine life. If you use balloons, try to swap the plastic stings with a decomposable material like rope instead of more plastic. While balloons are very appealing when throwing a celebration, try to be mindful of the devastating problems that could occur.

Decorations like tinsel can also have adverse effects on the environment. Tinsel is a commonly used Christmas tree decoration that is very thin and light but makes the tree glimmer. Instead of tinsel, purchase reusable ornaments with a metallic look to add shine! Many people will throw the tree outside for the tinsel to end up in our environment and ocean systems. Try to stick to decor that you can reuse! This won’t only help the environment, but it will also help your bank account!


Alternatives are good and arguably better for party decor in some instances. A new trend around social media is white and brown posters with custom paintings on them! This is an excellent alternative to plastic waste that will be thrown away and is more specialized to the event and person. Paper or biodegradable confetti is a great alternative to plastic glitter that brings the same element with less environmental consequences. Fresh flowers can also be another excellent party decor that brightens the environment to bring a pop of color.

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