Green party queen
For Tracey Read, director of Little Miss Green the Party Queen, it all started in November 2007 when she dumped two bags full of rubbish in the bin after her son's third birthday party. 'I felt really bad that we had produced so much waste after such a short happy event,' she said.
She decided to start her own company to supply environmentally friendly decorations, toys and tableware for children's parties, and now runs the business from her Discovery Bay home. The majority of her products are sourced locally to reduce the environmental impact of shipping.
'I have found a few fantastic local companies. My decorations and party bags are all made in Hong Kong by a group of women who are overcoming problems (whether it is through family, addiction or other) and are offered paid work, skills and training, support and flexible working hours to accommodate their needs and give them a helping hand.'
Ms Read said the group runs on fair trade principles and all the decorations and bags are only made from remnant fabric which helps reduce another waste product.
'My customers are not only buying a quality product, they are also directly helping other people within the community.'
Her tableware and some of the gifts (recycled newspaper pencils, sugarcane notebooks, bamboo and wooden toys) are responsibly made in the mainland. 'I try and buy only from companies that have a good environmental policy. Unfortunately not everything can be made locally. There is a lot of innovative ecological manufacturing in Australia and the United States, so I do have products from there.
'The tableware I sell is made from bagasse, the leftover fibrous pulp from plants such as sugarcane or bamboo. Not only are no new resources needed as it is made from what is essentially a waste product, but it is completely biodegradable and compostable. I also sell semi-reusable plates made from bamboo. The cups and cutlery are bioplastic and made from corn.
'I want to try and get the message across to people in a fun way. I wanted to convey with Little Miss Green the Party Queen that being environmentally conscious doesn't have to be boring, make you feel guilty or go without.'
She suggested that parents could reduce waste by being mindful of how food and drinks are served at children's parties. For example one large container of juice served in named cups rather than each child having an individual juice carton. Parents should also try to buy products that are not excessively packaged so as to reduce the waste.
A big hurdle for environmental businesses is that people associate being ecofriendly with expense, and Ms Read wants to help people see that buying quality, useful, reusable and long-lasting products are where you really save money. 'Buying trinkets, cheap plastic toys and disposable items such as batteries is when you waste money.'