How to be Zero Waste and Eco-Friendly with Your Children – 5 Tips

Filed in Blog by on May 1, 2020 2 Comments
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teaching children to be eco friendlyI’ve had a lot of emails recently, from readers asking about how they can include their children in a more eco friendly lifestyle. I promise it’s not that difficult, especially with younger children because firstly, most children are naturally caring – particularly about animals or the environment – and secondly, younger children will generally just follow what is modelled to them. So if you’re already living a Zero Waste lifestyle, your children will automatically adopt it.

However, if you’re looking for new ideas, here are five easy ideas:

Teach them about the environment and why it’s important to reduce waste 

When people feel connected to nature and appreciate the environment, the more likely they are to reduce waste and be mindful with their eco-friendly habits. Teaching your child about the environment and why it’s important to reduce waste introduces this connection and respect for the environment at a young age, so it becomes second nature to them. You can teach them where to throw out what, how to reduce food waste, and, once lockdown is over, take a trip to waste sites to get a visual for how much waste is produced by the community, and stimulate them to find alternative ways to reuse things instead of creating more waste.

Go paperless

Almost anything can be done without paper today. Going paperless is good for the environment and is a way you can help to reduce the clutter in your home!  For activities such as drawing and educational games, you can use technology to make them paperless activities. In fact, many schools are even starting to go paperless and relying on technology even for homework. If you homeschool your kids, this is something you might want to consider: at this day and age basically anything can be substituted digitally- for example, your child can learn to speak new languages with Babbel, an app available also on iOS, rather than tearing through hundreds of papers and textbooks. Same goes for other important subjects like maths and English: there are many digital alternatives available on the web to help your children learn in a sustainable way.

Reduce emissions

To help your child establish habits that will reduce emissions, teach them about the impact of transportation. Now is a perfect time, because we’re also seeing the effects on pollution of keeping cars off the road. So although we’re in a lockdown situation at the moment, we are all encouraged to get outside to exercise, so its ideal to promote cycling and get walking together. Once children are back to school, you can discuss whether walking to school is an option or whether you could set up a carpool with other families. 

Zero waste presents

It’s never too early to plan for Christmas! Traditional wrapping with wrapping paper produces a lot of waste simply to make a gift look ‘nice’. You can opt for zero waste presents by using less or no wrapping paper and getting creative with how you present a gift! It is also important to teach your child to be thoughtful about how long a gift will be around for too – is it a gift for the long term or just something to use for the short-term then move on from? Consider furoshiki (the art of wrapping in cloth), challenge your children to come up with creative wrapping ideas such as a scarf or tin (that also become a gift in themselves) or use their old artwork. 

Green cleaning

Hopefully your children help with the chores at home, and a good lesson plan for homeschooling at the moment is with making safe, effective household cleaning products! You can use white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda for many cleaning jobs – that’s your science lesson sorted! Then gather a pair of scissors, a needle and thread and some old cotton t-shirts and make yourself a set of washable cloths. You could try this online cleaning course I’ve written for more ideas, which costs just £5 at the moment. 

Who do you do with your kids to teach them about being zero waste and eco-friendly? Do you have suggestions for activities to add to the list?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

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  1. Emma Reed says:

    I always find that people don’t believe you can reduce waste or be more eco when you have children but we involve ours in all ways that we can and we have reduced our waste so much in the last two years even with having an extra child and one in nappies! It’s amazing what swaps you can find which are simple yet effective.

    • Mrs Green says:

      Great to hear, Emma. Thanks for stopping by to add to the conversation and for being an inspiration in your own life!

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