Kids' parties that reduce, reuse, recycle

LOS ANGELES A growing number of kids are passing it up in favor of more green celebrations.

High school senior Matthew Bateman graduates from high school soon, and he'd like to party where he gets some green, but he's not thinking about the green that goes in your wallet.

"I was thinking a community work party, maybe clearing a river, maybe a forest," Bateman said.

"It doesn't sound like fun, but when you get a lot of teens together, especially ones who are friends, it gets fun fast," he said.

Younger and older kids are looking to add the three Rs to their revelry: Reduce, reuse and recycle.

Some are even giving up presents altogether.

Green party experts Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson said Americans celebrate and spend a lot on kids, and it doesn't have to be bad for the earth.

"Americans spend $4.4 billion on graduation gifts alone. That's the gross national product for a small country," Colwell-Lipson said.

The experts suggest applying the three Rs to the four main aspects of a party: Food, décor, activities and gifts.

"Every single holiday or celebration can be made more eco-friendly," Colwell said.

Start by saying no to paper, and send Evites instead. Set the table with decorative kids sheets rather than a paper tablecloth.

Ask guests to bring gifts unwrapped, and you can still add mystery to the unveiling with a treasure hunt.

"Kids of all ages love to go on a treasure hunt for their gifts, and older kids think this is hysterical," said Colwell-Lipson.

Homemade gifts tend to have more meaning, and it becomes a part of a tradition that kids really enjoy.

There are also tree-free paper goods available, including invitations made out of elephant dung.

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