Whether it’s a colourful parade or a wedding, your party will feel a lot more celebratory when you add a bunch of confetti to the mix.
To put in an early spoiler alert: Traditional confetti is far from sustainable. This is why we need to make the switch to biodegradable natural confetti.
Throwing confetti in the air is done all around the world, but how did this cross-cultural sign of celebrating an important milestone come about?
When it comes to weddings, throwing confetti at the happy couple has become a more modern, often cheaper alternative to tossing rice grains or flower petals.
Colourful confetti is also seen gliding down at sporting events, parties, and parades. It’s fair to say that it’d be hard for any of us to imagine a big celebration that doesn’t feature confetti as its photo-finish moment.
But like with all other popular items made from non-renewable sources, there comes a point when we have to start asking whether these tiny bits of plastic, paper, and metallic materials could be bad for the environment.
There’s also a bit of good news to throw into the mix – biodegradable confetti, whether made at home or store-bought, can make your celebrations a lot greener in a pop! Let’s take a look.
The problem with traditional confetti
So, what’s the issue with traditional confetti anyway? Can humble confetti really have a big environmental impact, for such a tiny item?
Well, the answer lies in how the majority of classic confetti is made. When shopping online or at your local party shop, you’re likely to come across confetti made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other plastic materials.
This type of plastic is known for taking hundreds, and up to thousands of years, to fully break down.
Microplastic-derived confetti cannot be recycled in any way. It will eventually end up in your landfill bin after just one quick toss, polluting our soil and waterways.
Some types of confetti also have a metallic shine to them, meaning that they contain trace amounts of metal for coating. This is another non-renewable material adding up to the environmental pressure of mining.
In a way, traditional confetti is similar to traditional balloons, which contain a mixture of fossil-fuel based materials and latex. Check out these eco friendly balloon alternatives.
What about paper confetti?
While some might think that choosing confetti made out of paper would be a more eco-friendly option, these tiny bits are unfortunately way too small to be recycled. This means that after just one use, your paper confetti will also end up in the landfill, or in some areas of the country, to the incineration plant.
If made of shredded paper, your paper confetti might be compostable. However, you’ll have to do plenty of research to find how exactly it was made, not to mention spend a good chunk of time gathering it all up for your compost bin.
On top of pollution concerns, traditional confetti also constitutes a health hazard for local wildlife. The colourful, shiny pieces of plastic and paper left on the ground are bound to attract animals who end up eating them.
As they cannot be digested, birds, foxes, and even marine animals who come across confetti polluting their oceans will experience life-threatening blockages in their stomachs.
What is biodegradable confetti made from?
Luckily, biodegradable confetti has become a lot more popular in recent years.
Eco-friendly brands are now selling fully biodegradable and natural confetti made out of plant materials like dried flower petals, leaves and even biodegradable paper.
Confetti made from natural sources like dried petals and even DIY-friendly dried leaves is going to be the most carbon-neutral option for your celebrations.. This is because they are sourced from renewable materials and free from any dyes and preservatives.
This natural confetti comes in an array of styles and colours to match your party’s theme, with some options also coming with convenient party poppers for a photo-worthy burst of colour!
Dried-petal confetti is not only beautiful to look at but also incredibly easy to clean up.
However, if you prefer the classic look of plastic and paper confetti and want to find a more sustainable option, you’ll also find biodegradable confetti made out of paper or cornstarch.
The key thing to keep in mind when shopping for paper confetti is how you are going to use and discard them. If used indoors, you’ll have to gather them all up for your compost bin, but if you’re planning to toss them outdoors, you’ll have to make sure they can break down quickly and be absorbed into the soil without leaving any trace whatsoever.
So, make sure you are getting your paper biodegradable confetti from a seller who has designed it to break down quickly and naturally!
How to clean up natural confetti
One of the main reasons why biodegradable confetti has become so popular is because a growing number of venues has started banning the use of traditional confetti on their premises.
Classic confetti is famously hard to get rid of and clean up properly, as the tiny pieces of plastic and paper can linger for ages, both indoors and outdoors. This makes proper disposal and even composting a much harder task.
Natural confetti, on the other hand, will swiftly be swept away and broken down by the elements in a matter of days if tossed outdoors. In the case of indoor use, the odd petal confetti left in the venue will also degrade quite rapidly — no environmental harm, no mess!
How to make biodegradable confetti
The main drawback of buying natural and biodegradable confetti from shops comes down to its price tag. This is often a far cry from the inexpensive plastic confetti we’re so used to buying.
While you could gather most of your petal confetti to keep for later use (making for a more eco-friendly and wallet-friendly option), you could also make inexpensive and just as effective biodegradable confetti at home!
The easiest way to DIY your biodegradable confetti is to gather up a bunch of colourful, fallen leaves from your local park and use a hole puncher to create your very own natural confetti.
Autumn is the best time for collecting beautiful crunchy leaves, so why not make an adventure out of the process by bringing your kids along on your next morning walk? You could gather all the leaves that catch your eyes the most and craft unique DIY confetti together for later use.
You can also make your own natural petal confetti. This best way to do this is to collect healthy petals in good colour (preferably ones that have already been shed). Place these petals in a single layer on a piece of paper towel with a little bit of space in between the petals. Place another piece of paper towel on top and let them dry out. You can speed this process up with a short burst in the microwave.
Buying natural confetti online
If you don’t want to make your own natural confetti, you can buy it from several places online.
So, whether it’s for a graduation party, a wedding or your next birthday, opt for natural confetti that’s fully biodegradable, earth-friendly and won’t impact the local wildlife.
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Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.
Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.