With the recent ban on single-use plastics including plates, bowls, trays, containers, cutlery, and balloon sticks, a UK startup is offering a sustainable solution to Christmas party organisers who are concerned about the environmental impact and cost of plastic waste associated with partyware.
Party Kit Network was founded by Isabel Mack in 2019, based in Winchester. Mack was alarmed by the amount of single-use plastic waste generated at children’s parties and saw the potential in the idea of sharing party supplies locally. Starting as nothing more than a spreadsheet and a Facebook group, Party Kit Network has evolved into a “sharing economy” solution for finding fun, affordable, and reusable party items such as plates, cups, cutlery, and decorations in the UK, Australia, and beyond.
Party Kit Network aligns with two significant trends: the growing interest in reducing plastic waste and protecting the environment, and the preference for renting items instead of buying them, akin to the rising popularity of clothing rental and car-sharing apps. What sets this company apart is its status as a non-profit Community Interest Company (CIC), where any funds generated are reinvested, and members are not charged fees or commissions.
The primary goal of Party Kit Network is to discourage the use of disposable party supplies and make reusable items more accessible within local communities. The network now boasts 440 members across the UK, each offering party kits for rent, containing reusable plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, and serving ware, including jugs, trays, platters, and cake stands. Some kits even include decorations and themed props. Since tracking began in August 2020, Party Kit Network has prevented over 680,000 single-use items from entering landfills.
Each party kit is managed independently by environmentally-conscious individuals, school PTA groups, community lending libraries, small party businesses, and zero-waste stores. The benefits are substantial: these kits help reduce unnecessary waste from single-use items that can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills. Switching to reusables and renting a party kit for a gathering of 30 guests can save an average of 100 single-use items from ending up in landfills. Additionally, renting a party kit is often more cost-effective than purchasing disposable alternatives, and it offers the convenience of having everything provided in one convenient box.
Isabel Mack, the founder of Party Kit Network, emphasises, “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 Little Kits, a Hertfordshire-based party kit member of the network, says, “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.”
With Christmas approaching, a season notorious for generating excessive waste, Party Kit Network is gearing up for its busiest festive season yet, offering an eco-friendly alternative for holiday celebrations.