How To Celebrate Birthdays Plastic-Free

Birthdays are a special celebratory occasion that should not come at the expense of the environment and our health. It’s simple to plan a memorable birthday without creating more pollution with plastic plates and cups, party favors, and water bottles containing microplastics. By opting for a plastic-free celebration where waste is minimized, you can have a fulfilling and fun experience that is both better for you and the environment. Where to begin? Here are some fun ideas for celebrating birthdays without all the plastic.


Stainless Steel Cups & Plates

How to celebrate birthdays plastic free

Using stainless steel cups and plates instead of plastic and other throwaway items is a great way to reduce plastic and paper wastes and reduce your carbon footprint. Throwaway plates and cups may seem convenient, but they cause a lot of harm. Ultimately they will be sent to a landfill, dump, or incinerator, or contribute to the plastic pollution accumulating  in our oceans and other waterways. Additionally, using reusable stainless steel cups and plates can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your celebration. They can be relatively inexpensive to purchase, are easy to clean, and can be reused again and again—saving you time and money in the long run! Because they are so durable, you can also easily loan stainless steel cups to friends, neighbors, and loved ones.

Cloth Napkins

How to celebrate birthdays plastic free

Using cloth napkins is an eco-friendly alternative to paper napkins, which often come packaged in single-use plastic and create loads of waste. Cloth napkins are also more absorbent and durable than paper napkins and can easily be washed and reused, making them a practical choice for any birthday celebration.

Glass or Metal Beverage Dispenser

How to celebrate birthdays plastic free

Using a glass or metal dispenser is an environmentally friendly option for serving drinks, as it reduces the need for single-use plastic bottles or cups that pollute our planet. It also provides a unique and eye-catching way to serve drinks at your party, and can be customized with plastic-free decorations to fit your theme.

Glass Bottle Beverages

How to celebrate birthdays plastic free

Opting for beverages that come in glass bottles is an easy way to reduce plastic pollution, as glass bottles can be infinitely recycled (unlike plastic) and when in use do not release harmful chemicals into your body or the environment. They can also provide a nostalgic and vintage vibe to your party, and can be used as a decorative element to complement your party theme or decor.

Reusable Straws

How to celebrate birthdays plastic free

Sipping from reusable straws made from bamboo, glass, or stainless steel instead of plastic is a simple way to reduce waste. Reusable straws can also be a stylish and practical addition to your party decor, and can be customized with unique patterns or colors to add a touch of fun to your celebration. Additionally, replacing single-use plastic straws with non-plastic reusables can help promote a wider range of helpful plastic-free practices and encourage others to reduce their plastic use on a regular basis.

Plastic-Free Party Favors

How to celebrate birthdays plastic free

Choosing plastic-free party favors for kids is a great way to reduce plastic waste and set an example for young people to carry sustainable practices into their daily activities and choices. Handmade bracelets, wooden toys, or coloring books can also serve as a fun and unique keepsake for your guests, and can be customized to match your party theme or color scheme. Furthermore, opting for these types of party favors can promote creativity and imagination in children, while also teaching them about the importance of ending plastic pollution.

Plastic-Free Decorations

How to celebrate birthdays plastic free

Skip the balloons and plastic streamers and make decorations for your party from truly recyclable and compostable materials like paper, flowers, and food! Cut out pages from an old coloring book that matches your party’s theme and hang them with twine or cotton string for artistic and delightful party ornaments. Hanging popcorn, dried fruits, or flowers also make for great compostable, zero-waste, and eye-catching party decorations. Don’t spend money on cheap plastic tablecloths or party napkins that also contain polluting plastics either. Traditional fabric tablecloths and napkins are more durable, and heavier than the cheap plastic items you use once and throw “away”—so you also don’t need to worry about them being blown off your table in the wind. 


If you’re looking to give a thoughtful and sustainable gift that won’t contribute to plastic pollution, there are many options beyond traditional plastic items. In fact, gifting experiences can be just as memorable and meaningful as physical items, and can provide a great way to celebrate without creating unnecessary waste. Here are some fun ideas for plastic-free gifts that are sure to please.

Gifting Plants

How to celebrate birthdays plastic free

Gifting plants can be a unique and healthy gift idea, as they not only add greenery and beauty to the recipient’s home but also have air-purifying abilities that can help improve air quality indoors. In addition, plants can be long-lasting and low-maintenance gifts that can be enjoyed for years to come with proper care, and even help relieve stress.

Outdoor Experiences

Gifting outdoor experiences like rock climbing, hiking, or kayaking can provide a unique and exciting way to celebrate a birthday without contributing to plastic pollution. Such gifts also promote physical activity and restorative time spent in nature. These experiences can create lasting memories and provide a fun and adventurous way to celebrate any special occasion.

Concerts, Theater, & Music Classes

Gifting cultural experiences like concert or theater tickets can provide a special and memorable way to celebrate a birthday without the need for wrapping paper or plastic waste, while also supporting the arts and creating opportunities to create new memories. In addition, attending a live performance can be a great way to bond and connect with friends and loved ones while enjoying a shared experience. Music and improv classes also make great gifts, and can help develop a child’s creativity and artistic voice.

Cooking or Baking Classes

Gifting a cooking or baking class can provide a fun and hands-on way to learn new skills and create delicious meals or treats. Learning how to cook for oneself can also promote healthier and more sustainable eating by reducing reliance on plastic-packaged and processed foods. Additionally, taking a class can be a great way to spend quality time with friends or loved ones and create lasting memories.

Fitness & Skill-Based Classes

Gifting fitness classes such as a yoga, dance, or martial arts lesson can provide a healthy and energizing way to celebrate a birthday without creating plastic waste. In addition to promoting physical activity and wellness, these classes can also offer opportunities for personal growth by fostering new skills. Yoga classes, in particular, can offer a range of physical and mental health benefits, including increased flexibility, strength, and balance, as well as improved focus and relaxation. Dance classes can be a fun and social way to stay active and can provide an opportunity for self-expression and creative exploration, making it a great gift for anyone looking to enhance their physical and emotional well-being while celebrating their birthday in a sustainable way. Martial arts classes can provide self-defense skills and instill discipline and focus, making it a great gift for both adults and children. 

Celebrating a birthday free of plastic is a simple and effective way to show respect for the environment and our bodies, while also creating meaningful memories with loved ones. From choosing reusable tableware to gifting plastic-free items and experiences, there are many fun and creative ways to celebrate sustainably. By taking steps to reduce our plastic consumption, we can all play a role in protecting the planet and shaping a culture of care for future generations. 
For more tips on plastic-free gift giving including zero-waste gift wrapping, check out our tips for celebrating the holidays plastic-free! And take the pledge to Refuse Single-Use Plastic:


March 15 , 2:00 pm 3:30 pm EDT

With momentum surging in state legislatures to tackle the growing waste crisis, we face a pivotal opportunity to catalyze the new reuse economy. Join Upstream and friends for our first livestream of 2023 as we explore how best to incorporate waste prevention and reuse into one of the most popular waste policies — Extended Producer Responsibility. Strong EPR policies should support a just transition to a circular economy that prioritizes reuse.

Upstream’s Policy Director, Sydney Harris, will provide an overview of our new Principles for Reuse/Refill in EPR and DRS and host a conversation with special guest panelists who craft and support EPR legislation – including Jennifer Navarra, Program Director for Zero Waste Hawaiʻi Island; Will Grassle, Associate for Policy & Programs at the Product Stewardship Institute; McKenna Morrigan, Policy Advisor at Seattle Public Utilities; and David Allaway, Senior Policy Analyst at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Materials Management Program.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023
11am PT / 2pm ET

This program will run for one hour, with an additional, optional 30 minute “speed networking” event at the end.

This event is free, open to the public, and will be recorded and shared with all registrants (whether you can join us live or not).

Space is limited so please register here today.

January 12 , 5:00 pm 6:00 pm EST

PPC Webinar - Washed Up: The Invisible Threat of Microfibers

Over 60% of clothing sold worldwide contains plastic—in the forms of polyester, acrylic, nylon, spandex, and more. Through regular washing and wearing, synthetic clothing sheds tiny plastic particles called “microfibers.” A single load of laundry can release over 9 million microfibers into our waterways. Many microfibers are so small they cannot be filtered by wastewater treatment facilities and ultimately end up in our oceans.

In our first webinar of 2023, we will explore how the ubiquitous nature of synthetic textiles is causing a massive and largely invisible plastic pollution problem. We will be joined by Meli Hinostroza, Co-Founder, Aya Eco Fashion & Arms of Andes; Dr. Andrej Kržan, Chief Scientist, PlanetCare; and Dr. Judith Weis, Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences at Rutgers University. The conversation will be moderated by Madeleine MacGillivray, Climate and Plastics Campaign Coordinator, Seeding Sovereignty.

Date: Thursday, January 12
Time: 2-3 pm PT | 5-6 pm ET
Click here to convert to your timezone.


Meli Hinostroza
Aya Eco Fashion & Arms of Andes

Meli is a Los Angeles-born Peruvian who has worked to bridge the gap between her ancestors’ heritage and the modern world by creating uniquely sustainable clothing made from the Inca’s most functional fiber, alpaca wool, and the softest organic fiber, organic pima cotton. With her brother, Rensso, they built a studio in Peru developing plastic-free clothing through their company “Arms of Andes,” a PPC Business Member. Her goals are to keep centering sustainability and spreading the word of what a real sustainable clothing industry should be. The siblings aim to redesign the fashion industry and educate consumers and manufacturers on how to choose and create sustainable and biodegradable clothing.

Dr. Andrej Kržan
Chief Scientist

Andrej holds a doctorate in chemistry and has been working in academic research for 25 years, focusing on the environmental aspects of polymers and plastics. He has coordinated several international projects and is a lecturer for waste management and polymer materials at the University level. Andrej joined PPC Business Member PlanetCare in 2018 with a wish to not just study an environmental problem but rather contribute to a solution for it. At PlanetCare, he is responsible for projects, external collaborations, and the laboratory.

Dr. Judith S. Weis
Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences
Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey

Judith is a Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey. She has published over 250 refereed scientific papers and a technical book on marine pollution, and has edited several books. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was a Science Policy Fellow with the U.S. Senate and a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Indonesia. She has been on advisory committees for U.S. EPA, NOAA (National Sea Grant Advisory Board), and the National Research Council. She also chaired the Science Advisory Board of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. She served on the boards of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, the Association for Women in Science, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, of which she was President in 2001.


Madeleine MacGillivray
Climate and Plastics Campaign Coordinator
Seeding Sovereignty

Madeleine is a lifelong climate activist, microplastics-focused science communicator, sustainable brand consultant, and native of Brooklyn, NY. She holds an M.S. in Sustainability Management at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, and a B.A. in Environmental Policy from Barnard, having completed her undergraduate thesis on microplastics pollution at Columbia’s renowned Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Madeleine is the Climate and Plastics Campaign Coordinator at Indigenous-led Seeding Sovereignty, connecting environmental justice and the fossil fuel-to-plastic pipeline. Also an Ambassador and advisory board member of the 5 Gyres Institute, Madeleine specializes in microplastics pollution research and legislation. Madeleine communicates complex environmental issues with creativity, compassion, and empathy.


December 2, 2022 All day

The Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony will be held at the MGM Music Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, and broadcast across the world wherever you are on December 4, 5, and 14. Earthshot Prize Award winners earn support for projects that help ensure that, for the first time in human history, the natural world is growing—not shrinking—on our planet. Plastic Pollution Coalition is a proud Earthshot Prize nominator.

The Earthshot Prize is focused on three areas of interest:

  • Protecting and managing natural carbon stores such as peatlands and intact forests.
  • Restoring forests, wetlands, and other damaged ecosystems.
  • Developing and scaling regenerative agriculture.

Celebrate this year’s winners by watching the awards, below! (Please note, all times are subject to change.)

If you’re in the UK, you can watch the Awards on Sunday, December 4th at 17:30 GMT on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

If you’re in the USA, you can watch the Awards online at and on the PBS app from 14:00 ET and on the PBS YouTube channel from 20:00 ET, on December 4. PBS will also broadcast the event on Wednesday, December 14th, check local listings for times.

If you’re in Africa, the Awards will premiere on MultiChoice channels on Monday, December 5th.
(Africa Magic Family, 17:00 WAT / One Zed, 18:00 CAT / Newzroom Afrika, 21:00 CAT / Maisha Magic East, 17:00 EA)

If you are anywhere else in the world, you can watch the Awards online via The Earthshot Prize YouTube channel from Sunday, December 4th at 18:00 GMT.

December 8, 2022 , 6:00 pm 8:00 pm EST

To honor our community’s environmental heroes, FracTracker Alliance created the Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship. The annual award ceremony celebrates individuals whose noble actions exemplify the transformative power of committed and engaged people. In collaboration with our sponsors and partners, the award is presented to multiple recipients at a virtual reception before fellow activists, allies and conspirators, all of whom are working towards a healthier and more just future.

​This year the Community Sentinel Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, December 8th. We also welcome our partners and community members to submit the names of activists who have passed away over the last year, so that we may honor their lives and their work during the Legacy of Heroes presentation during the awards ceremony.

Here are this year’s winners – help us celebrate them on December 8th!

  • Cesar AguirreCentral California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN), California
  • Dr. Joy Banner & Jo BannerThe Descendants Project, Louisiana
  • Laurie BarrSave our Streams PA, Pennsylvania
  • Dr. Crystal Ann Cavalier-Keck7 Directions of Service, North Carolina
  • Chanté DavisSunrise Movement, Texas
  • Jill Antares HunklerOhio Valley Allies, Ohio

December 7, 2022 , 4:00 pm

Join Beyond Plastics and Just Zero for an important briefing on a new model bill designed to reduce packaging, sometimes called Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging, on Wednesday, December 7, at 4pm Eastern Time.

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging is heating up in state capitals across the US, both from environmental groups and plastic producers. The essential function of EPR is to shift the cost of packaging disposal from consumers to the companies that produce the products. It is a policy that signals major changes in the waste system and an economy-wide transition, as nearly every piece of packaging in stores would be covered under EPR.

However, this idea has been hijacked by plastic producers, big consumer brands, and companies that want to burn plastics rather than reduce it.

Ineffective EPR bills, mainly those pushed by industry, will delay action on plastic reduction for years. However, EPR has the potential to be an effective policy tool for preventing plastic pollution, improving recycling, decreasing toxic additives, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions – if the legislation includes specific requirements.

Beyond Plastics and Just Zero are supporting a model bill that requires:

Packaging to be reduced, refilled or reused by 50% over ten years; toxics in packaging to be reduced; a new revenue source to be established for local governments to invest in waste reduction and recycling programs; chemical recycling to be prohibited in all of its incarnations, materials that cannot be source reduced to be recycled at a 70% rate over ten years.

The bill is designed to move packaging away from single-use plastics, the most common source of pollution and a major contributor to climate change, toward reusable, refillable, and truly recyclable packaging, while funding recycling in municipalities.

Join Judith Enck, Kirstie Pecci, and Peter Blair for a special briefing on the model EPR bill on Wednesday, December 7, at 4pm Eastern Time. We will explain our model and the differences from other packaging proposals being peddled by the packaging industry.