Our next interview in the Make Your Life Simpler blog series is with Kirsty Collingwood from Green Bean Eco Party Packs.
"Our lives seem to constantly be getting busier and planning a party just adds an extra list of things to do and buy, so anything to make life easier has to be a good thing."
1. Kirsty, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Originally from New Zealand, I moved to the UK over 20 years ago but I’m still very much a proud Kiwi. After spending the first 15 years in north London I now live in Harpenden, Herts, with my husband and two young children. I’ve got a marketing background but took some time out after having children – which has been both amazing and hard work in equal measure!
Since having children my priorities have changed and I’ve become increasingly concerned about the world they’re growing up in. I feel the climate crisis is one of the most important issues we’re all facing right now and the lack of action by some governments and big businesses really worries me. I’m scared about the state we’re leaving our planet in for the next generation and I think it’s important we all do what we can to make even a small difference.
In July 2019 I started a business called Green Bean Eco Party Packs. To help people cut down on the number of single-use items purchased for children's parties, I hire out reusable party kits which include tableware and decorations. The average party kit saves around 100 single-use items from going to landfill!
2. What’s your favourite parenting hack?
Well, I’m not exactly sure this is a parenting hack, but I find that meal prepping and batch cooking is a life-saver! When time is short and I haven’t thought ahead about what to cook for the kids for dinner I tend to panic and the resulting meal is probably going to be some sort of ‘picky plate’. So, if I can plan ahead and know what I’m going to be making – or at least taking out of the freezer – then I know it’s going to be healthy and nutritious.
3. How do Green Beans Eco Party Packs make people’s lives easier?
Our lives seem to constantly be getting busier and planning a party just adds an extra list of things to do and buy, so anything to make life easier has to be a good thing. Green Bean’s party kits provide all the tableware and decorations you’ll need in one box ready to go, so you don’t have to traipse around the shops buying all the individual items.
It also works out cheaper (who’d have thought – something that’s good for the environment that isn’t more expensive) and there’s even an option to leave all the washing up to me. How easy is that? Plus, there’s the added bonus of knowing you’ve made a positive environmental impact, and you can’t put a price on that.
4. What 3 people | movements | organisations inspire you?
Jen Gale of Sustainable(ish) - The idea for starting Green Bean came after listening to a podcast by Jen Gale of Sustainable(ish) about a party kit which had been set up in Frome by Tillie Mabbutt. I’d been following Jen for a while on social media and this podcast really struck a chord. I loved the concept and knew it was something that could be put into practice in my area. Jen’s first book, ‘The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide’ is out on January 9th and I’m really looking forward to reading it.
Isabel Mack of Party Kit Network - Recently lots of other people around the UK have also seen the benefits of hiring instead of buying and have put together party kits in their own area. Last year Isabel Mack recognised this and set up Party Kit Network so people can easily find someone nearby to hire from. Isabel has worked hard to spread the word and there are now 250 party kit businesses around the UK – from the Shetlands all the way down to Cornwall. So I’m also inspired by Isabel and all of these other people who have similar goals to provide a zero-waste party option.
My children - I’m inspired every day by my children. I want them to have a future, a world to grow up in that isn’t on the verge of collapsing and I want them to value and appreciate it. My daughter is six and wants to start an eco club at school to try and get all her friends on board and constantly surprises me with her desire to make a positive impact.
5. What are you working on at the moment?
My main objective at the moment is to spread the word further about reusable options and zero waste parties. I think it’s a relatively new concept for many people and they don’t realise that parties can still be great without all the single-use items we’ve come to expect and accept.
I’m also about to launch the hire of vintage china so the adults can be catered for at parties as well. I’ve already hired out a few sets and the feedback has been really positive.
And I really need to make another fabric pass-the-parcel set! It’s one of the favourite party items and is being well used, I just need to look out for some good pre-loved material and find the time!
6. Kirsty, what’s something about you that Google doesn’t know?
I never thought I’d say this but developing a kidney stone on a long-haul flight is much easier than travelling solo to New Zealand from the UK with a one year old and a just four year old!
7. What message would you put on a billboard?
“The climate crisis is real. Please help!”
8. Where can we connect with you?