Arms reaching up to a blue sky having just thrown flower petals
(Image credit: kieferpix)

Throwing confetti at weddings and other festivities is a long standing tradition. However, today's celebrations are considering more sustainable and environmentally friendly options. Environmentally friendly confetti is one way to laud the occasion while preventing harm to animals, waterways, and other wild spaces. Luckily, it is easy to make DIY eco-friendly confetti that will degrade naturally and cause no harm.

If you are planning an event and want to use confetti, think again. Some confetti is made from plastic, an item that won't degrade for centuries. It also leaves behind petro-chemical residues that are not earth friendly. Additionally, birds are attracted to the shine and will eat the stuff, resulting in gut damage. Instead of purchasing confetti, consider eco-friendly confetti ideas that will still provide that celebratory feel, while producing no ill effects.

The Problem with Confetti

Much of the confetti available is brightly colored, shiny, and often glittery. The stuff is vibrant and exciting when tossed in the air, catching the light and providing a non-pyrotechnic firework effect. Some of the stuff is bad for our environment though. Not only will some animals find it attractive, but it will work its way into the food chain. The tiny bits of plastic have the ability to accumulate in animals' stomachs, which can lead to starvation. Some may wash into rivers, lakes, and oceans, finding its way into marine life. It also creates an eyesore and pollution on the surface of the land as it blows willy nilly. Many venues have outright banned confetti due to its polluting properties. Metal and plastic laced confetti can melt in high heat and deposit toxins in the soil. It will also take 1,000 years to break down when made of PVC.

Alternatives to Confetti

Several decades ago, it was decided that birdseed was the way to go. It was a suitable alternative to raw rice, which has the capacity to swell in animals' guts and create gastronomic problems. Birdseed is a reasonable substitute to traditional confetti and rice, but it should be carefully sourced. If there are non-native seeds involved, they may sprout and create invasive plants.

Instead, opt for items like biodegradable substitutes or even dried leaves. A very colorful and pretty option is dried flower petals. Often items like rose petals can be sourced from florists, or you may opt to collect your own flowers and dry them in the months preceding the big event. Many types of blooms are suitable, some of which will scent the air, such as roses or lavender. This biodegradable flower petal confetti provides plenty of festive vibes but will re-join the earth in a matter of weeks.

How to Make Natural Confetti

Sustainable, environmentally friendly confetti can still be fun. For a fall themed event, collect colorful autumn leaves and dry them. Or in the growing season, gather spring and summer flowers to preserve. There are several ways to dry blooms and foliage. They may be placed in a dehydrator until desiccated. The items can also be air dried on a rack in a dry location of the home. The easiest way to do this is to take stems of the plants and hang them. Once dry, remove the leaves or flowers. A classic way to dry flowers is by pressing them. This results in perfectly preserved models of the living plant. Placing the plant material between the pages of a heavy tome, which is weighted, is the simplest way to press. There are also plant presses available for big jobs. Other ways to preserve are by burying the material in Borax and white cornmeal, silica gel desiccants, or by using Oolitic sand. Once you have your dried plant pieces, they can be crumbled smaller, or used whole for an unconventional, yet less polluting party favor.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.