10 Tips for Low-Waste Parenting
Parenting gives us a unique opportunity to establish a strong foundation of values that can carry a child throughout their entire life, like for example, living zero-waste or a low-waste lifestyle. As intimidating as that prospect may seem, we all know it has the potential to create impactful positive change in the world. Kids are sponges for information and fantastic at making a seemingly monotonous task fun; so why not include them in your journey towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle?
If we start at the beginning with why and how to love and respect our Mother Earth then it will be much easier to reinforce environmental innovation for humanity in the future. Love Your Mother Boutique (LYMB) believes that through leading by example, we can make eco-forward choices second nature for our children. Using these 10 Tips for low-waste parenting, we can empower our children to value taking care of the planet in a meaningful and actionable way.
10 Tips for Eco-Foward Low-Waste Parenting
From the time you learn that you’re going to become a parent, you have the opportunity to make ripples in the world of environmentalism. Buy strollers, cribs, and other baby items from consignment stores. Ask around for hand-me-down clothes or learn how to make your own - after all, they’re only going to fit into them for a few weeks in the beginning, no need to go overboard.
2. Diapers and Potty Training
Cloth diapers can be hygienically bought second hand and have been proven to reduce disposable diaper landfill waste substantially. When it’s time to move away from full-on diapers, there are many branded high-absorbency training underpants that can be purchased second hand as well. That being said, you can always try going cold turkey at home - all it costs is a little time and patience.
Laundry is always a point of contention when you have children but it doesn’t have to be. Lead by example in teaching your kids how to recognize whether or not their clothes are actually dirty so they can be worn multiple times before going into the wash. Once their clothing needs a good scrub, remember to use cold water and eco-conscious products like TruEarth detergent and wool dryer balls.
Kids make messes, we know that - and that’s why being eco-prepared for chaos is a must. Try using cloth rather than paper towels as well as choosing eco-friendly, organic cleaners for tougher tidies. Not only will these environmentally conscious choices help nature but they’re better for you and the kids too. Lose the harmful chemicals and toxins in favour of safer family cleaning products.
We all want to feed our kids the best and most nourishing foods possible but it doesn’t always turn out as we planned - There are a lot of picky eaters out there! Try experimenting with a wide selection of local foods and maybe entice them by taking a trip to see where their food actually comes from. Additionally, having the kids contribute to a menu plan can not only encourage them to eat what they planned but will also reduce waste by buying only what you’re going to eat.
The thing about kids is that they are always learning - so use that to your advantage! Whenever possible, use dialogue, storytelling, and reusable writing tools (chalk or boogie boards) to reinforce and practice lessons. If school is asking you to complete projects, consider using nature and recyclables as they can be very versatile for counting and creating.
In the same vein as school projects, crafting with natural and eco-friendly products brings a whole new and exciting element to a child’s creation. Teaching your child how to repurpose old items by tackling a DIY project encourages mindfulness, bonding, and fun! Recyclable materials can make fantastic instruments, castles, and puppets among other things - their uses are only limited by your imagination.
Celebrations are often filled with disposable, single-use items but it doesn’t have to be. Having a back-up ‘party-stock’ of simple, reusable plates, cutlery, and mason jars takes care of eating and drinking while eliminating plastic and foil balloons in favour of homemade decorations (see “Crafts” above) still creates a festive atmosphere. Parties don’t have to be wasteful to be fun, you just have to think outside the box.
What makes a child happier than playing with their favourite toys? So, how do you indulge in their childish whims without adding to the landfill? If you are compelled to buy new, choose eco-alternatives whenever possible. But have you ever brought a child to a thrift store? They get just as excited about the toy section there as they do at the big box stores. In fact, they may even be more excited because oftentimes they actually get to play with the toys that they see.
The saying that is often used for Christmas but is applicable all year round goes, “something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. Keeping things minimal and simple is the best practice here as your children will be better able to appreciate each item they get rather than experiencing the overwhelm and disconnect that comes with mountains of ‘things’ being tossed their way. As always, regifting, hand-me-downs, and thrifting are fabulous options as well!
In addition to creating a bright environmental future for our children and generations to come, we are also guiding them on a journey that puts a high value on functional skills that will help them throughout their lives. Environmentalism promotes learning trades and hands-on skills for the practical purpose of product maintenance and repurposing but it also begins the journey towards normalizing things like regifting, thrift shopping (for yourself and others), and general mindfulness of how we consume the various things in our world (from food to products to screen time).
Normalize regifting & thrift shopping for others while using products that make sense for your family and provide a safe situation for your children as well as our environment - Make these habits second-nature from the beginning. Wouldn’t it be nice to give our kids the gift of not having to unlearn habits that are harmful to the environment? With our support from the get-go, they will naturally gravitate to the choices that will preserve our Mother Earth and create a more eco-forward world.