Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 02:13 am
With the recent ban on single-use plastics, including plates, bowls, trays, cutlery, and balloon sticks, a UK startup is offering a solution for Christmas party organisers concerned about the environmental impact and cost of plastic waste associated with disposable party supplies.
Founded by Isabel Mack in 2019, Party Kit Network is based in Winchester and was born out of concern over the excessive amount of single-use plastic waste generated at children’s parties. Mack envisioned a way to share party supplies locally, initially starting with nothing more than a spreadsheet and a Facebook group. Today, Party Kit Network offers a “sharing economy” solution for finding fun, affordable, and reusable party items like plates, cups, cutlery, and decorations in the UK, Australia, and beyond.
Party Kit Network has tapped into two significant trends: the increasing interest in reducing plastic waste and preserving the environment, and the shift towards renting items rather than buying them, similar to the growing popularity of clothing rental and car-sharing apps. What sets this company apart is its non-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) status, ensuring that any funds raised are reinvested, and members are not charged fees or commissions.
The goal of Party Kit Network is to discourage the use of disposable party supplies and make reusable items more accessible within local communities. Currently boasting 440 members across the UK, the network offers party kits for hire, containing reusable plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, serving ware, decorations, and themed props. Since tracking began in August 2020, the network has prevented over 680,000 single-use items from ending up in landfills.
Each party kit is independently managed by eco-conscious individuals, school PTA groups, community lending libraries, small party businesses, and zero waste stores. The benefits are substantial: these kits help avoid unnecessary waste from single-use items, which can take centuries to decompose in landfills. Switching to reusables and renting a party kit can save an average of 100 single-use items from going to landfill for a party with 30 guests. Additionally, it’s often more cost-effective to hire a party kit than to purchase disposable equivalents, offering convenience with everything provided in one handy box.
Isabel Mack, the founder, notes, “Party kits offer a simple solution to a waste problem. Like the wider sharing economy, I believe they also strengthen community connections (I’m often referred to as ‘the plate lady’ in Winchester). And they can act as a catalyst – by making the swap from disposables to eco-friendly reusables easier we hopefully inspire more people to look for sustainable options in other areas of life. The appeal is truly global – we’ve just had a kit from Oklahoma join!”
Beth Roberts, Founder of Hertfordshire-based party kit provider, Little Kits, which is a member of the network, adds, “We started our business in a bid to help busy parents plan parties in a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way. Party Kit Network has been an invaluable resource for us as party kit owners and helped connect us with customers in our local area. It’s such a brilliant idea and we’re really happy to be part of such a strong community with a common goal.”
As Christmas approaches, when waste generation tends to peak, Party Kit Network is gearing up for its busiest festive season yet, offering a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative for holiday celebrations.