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Time for a Good Goodie Bag

Goodie bags -those delightful packages of joy that kids eagerly anticipate at parties, events, and special occasions. They're like little treasure chests filled with surprises and excitement. As parents we also know that most of the stuff inside a goodie bag has a very short lived excitement and a lot ends up in the trash within minutes. The tiny things might keep the kids occupied for a hot minute, but then they're forgotten and tossed aside. 

Living in a world where Convenience Trumps Sustainability

In today's fast-paced world, when the convenience of buying a thing often trumps its impact on the environment , It's easy to fall for cheap, disposable trinkets that promise instant gratification but contribute to the never ending waste in our landfills or oceans. Many of us in busy lives can relate to this. You are planning a birthday party and next thing you know is go online and order those plastic toys that are sold in dozens and come within your budget. More often that not, you end up ordering more than required because they sell in packs of 12 or something but  the number of kids in the party don't follow the dozen rule. It's hard to beat the convenience and cheap price of those things.

But imagine all that plastic going as waste and clogging our landfills and oceans.  With our children receiving almost 20 to 30 goodie bags per year from the many birthday parties, different holidays and special occasions,  the combined impact of these single-use items is hard to ignore.


Not just bad for the planet, they are not that fun too

Have you noticed that these little items are not just easily breakable, but they are also sometimes just too inconvenient to play. Who will make that mini puzzle with micro mini pieces that don’t even stick together properly, or those sticky figures that gather up dust as soon as they fall on the floor, or the omnipresent pop-its which inevitably come in every goodie bag! Not exactly thrilling. I am sure if you have little kids in life, you know what I am talking about. 

Pile of stuff received in less than 6 months

Here is the picture of a few goodie bag items that my kids have got in the last 5 months!  And some items might have already broken or trashed before I put them away. As you can see, some items are very popular and keep coming again and again.  I didn’t have the heart to throw them in trash, so I am just collecting them in a drawer, and will most likely give them away to kids who usually don’t have the luxury of receiving such goodie bags throughout the year and might actually value these items much more. Let me know if you have any better ideas of using them.

It’s high time to reimagine the goodie bag game. Here are a few ideas to get us started:

It's high time to up the game for the Goodie bag!

1) Useful Goodies

Let's swap out those plastic trinkets for something with a bit more useful life. Think funky pencils, erasers, or mini stationery sets. Practical, useful, and way more likely to survive longer before winding up in the trash.

2) Heartfelt Touches

Who needs another plastic toy when you can give the gift of a nice thoughtful  message? I've seen it work wonders all the time.

One of the examples is from my son's class. His teachers hands out these "positive behavior tickets" – just a small piece of paper with a message from the teacher commending good behavior. My son treasures those tickets more than any other toy! It's such a waste-free way of rewarding kids that leaves a lasting impact.

If you are a teacher or in another role where you want to reward little kids for good behavior, please consider something like this instead of buying things from dollar store or online for the class's treasure chest. You will save money, you will save the planet, and kids will remember these more. It's a triple win!

Similarly, there is another example where a teacher does a special activity for kids birthdays. She asked all the kids in the class to write a message for the birthday kid what they like about him/her. It was such a simple yet thoughtful gesture that made the birthday boy feel truly special, and feel good about his classmates. 

If a similar thing could be done for Valentine's day instead of the 20 goodies they receive in that one single day, we can save thousands of those plastic junk pieces. Imagine just in a class of 20, where everyone gives something to everyone else, we are talking of almost 400 freebies circulating! And now multiply that the number of classes in a school, then in a school district. We are talking of thousands of those plastic toys from just one town for one single day and I am pretty confident it didn't help them a bit to make their friendship stronger. 

 3) Experiential Rewards are fun

The gift of an experience is another good one. It’s hard to get many options within a goodie bag budget, but a small gift card for a local ice cream shop for example could be a great option. Do you have more ideas?


How can you help

Perhaps the most powerful change we can make is to lead by example. By choosing sustainable alternatives for our own celebrations and encouraging others to do the same, we can create a ripple effect of positive change that extends far beyond the confines of a single party.

So, the next time you're putting together a goodie bag, think twice about what you're putting inside. With a little creativity and conscious effort, we can turn those bags of trash into treasure that's truly meaningful – for our kids and the planet. Let's do this!


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