Posts Tagged 'zero waste family'

Zero Waste Parenting: Back to School

As anyone with kids knows, parenthood isn’t always easy. Add in the decision of leading a zero waste lifestyle and it can seem next to impossible. However, being a zero waste parent is not as far-fetched as it might seem. We’ve tackled a few zero waste parenting ideas in the past. And yes, it can take a bit more effort at first, but the small steps you take now will set your children up for a brighter and cleaner future! With that in mind, let’s get into our next zero waste parenting adventure and head back to school!

Go green with your Back to School routine!

Back to School season instantly conjures up ideas of supply lists and packing school lunches. Those ideas are usually accompanied by images of wasteful wrapping, plastic cutlery and sandwich bags, and a graveyard of old school supplies buried in some closet. With a few quick swaps on your supply list and ditching those single use items, greening up your Back to School routine can be much simpler than you would ever imagine.

Reduce, Reuse, or Repair:

When reviewing your new classroom needs for your kids, our first suggestion when it comes to zero waste habits is to reduce, reuse, or repair first. Is that lunch box from last year still in good condition? Can the scissors from years past be utilized again? If supplies from previous years are still usable, you should definitely reuse them! Make your supplies stand the test of time by opting for more classic designs. If you have simple prints and colors for lunchboxes and backpacks, there is less need to replace them year after year. If you have some broken items previous, try to repair them before you replace!

While you may not be able to utilize last year’s supplies every time, there is still the option to invest in reusable supplies going forward. This is especially important when it comes to school lunches. With a few extra minutes a day, you can make every school lunch much more sustainable. Swapping any single use item is a simple rule of thumb – switch from plastic sandwich bags to beeswax wraps or reusable snack bags, opt for a reusable utensil option over plastic cutlery, and ditch your single use plastic water bottles and grab a refillable alternative!

Invest in reusable lunch time alternatives! Don’t forget your reusable lunch bag!

Lunch isn’t the only time you can find sustainable alternatives! Check out the Everlast Rocket Book, a smart notebook that allows you to catalog your notes online. Once you use the notebook, you’re able to upload your notes, effortlessly clean off the book, and reuse the same notebook over and over!

Repurpose, Donate, or Recycle:

When you’ve exhausted your ability to reduce your single use items, repair broken supplies, and reuse anything you can, our next zero waste step on the list is to repurpose, donate, or recycle. Thrift stores are always a great option for Back to School shopping. There is also ample opportunity to donate and recycle your kids’ old supplies. One of the best parts of going zero waste is finding all of the organizations that are trying to make it as easy as possible. Crayola runs a Colorcycle program collecting and recycling old Crayola markers. Old binders of any brand can be donated to Office Depot for a recycling program they’re running in partnership with TerraCycle. You can also save $2 on a new binder when you donate an old one!

Follow these 4 steps from Crayola’s website to be an Eco-Cool School!

There are plenty of ways to go green even during the Back to School madness. With a little extra time, this whole zero parenting thing isn’t really all that difficultwell, no more difficult than parenting in general.

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Become a Zero Waste Family (Without Pulling Your Hair Out)

The idea of zero waste can seem overwhelming to many, and sometimes just convincing family and kids to pitch in can be enough to stop the most eager zero-waster in their tracks. We’re here to offer some tips and suggestions for getting the whole family on board for practicing (and enjoying) a zero waste life!

Grocery Shopping for the Family:

The key to embracing a zero waste lifestyle at home is as simple as preferring reusable items to disposables. The best place to start is at the store. Grocery stores are full of food that comes prepackaged in disposable wrappers and containers. Most of this packaging, including plastic produce and grocery bags, are considered “soft plastics” and cannot be recycled with other materials. By shopping in bulk and using reusable bags and jars, you are preventing this waste from entering your home in the first place. When you’re done shopping, try making a dish from scratch from the foods you bought and packing lunches for school and work with reusable containers and utensils.

Avoid disposable prepackaged foods. Pack your kid’s lunch with reusable items instead!

Toys, Clothes, and Everything Else that Ends Up on the Floor:

On the topic of shopping, a big culprit of waste can be compulsive buys- things we want in the moment but get minimal use out of before tossing them. This could be anything from clothing to toys to food. To prevent this, buy only what you need or know you are going to use. Yes, this includes all the toys and games your kids probably ask for. It may be tough at first, but encourage your kids to value and take care of what they have (this is a tough one, but we believe in you). When you do need something, use second-hand stores as your first stop to look. Similarly, instead of throwing away good items you no longer need or want, consider giving them a new life through donation.

Buy your toys second hand. When you’re done with them, donate them instead of tossing them!

Cleaning Up that Neverending Mess:

Anyone with children (and without) knows that messes are bound to happen, but they don’t have to set you back on your zero waste journey. To clean up spills or wash surfaces, opt for reusable cloths and DIY cleaning products instead of paper towels and store-bought chemical cleaners. Most DIY household cleaners only require a few ingredients, and chances are you already have most of them lying around! For example, an effective all-purpose cleaner can be made with white vinegar, baking soda, water, and essential oils.

Fill the Calendar with Zero Waste Family Fun:

It’s important to note that zero waste doesn’t have to be all about the stuff you have; it can also be about the things you do! A great way to get the whole family engaged is to have fun doing activities that let you spend time together without creating trash. Some options include visiting a park or beach, checking some books or movies out from the library, exploring a museum or aquarium, riding bikes, crafting using upcycled materials, and, of course, participating in an ILACSD cleanup! San Diego has an endless supply of places to explore, and by living zero waste you and your family can enjoy them while knowing that you are doing your part in keeping them clean and beautiful!

Participate in zero waste activities as a family. Join ILACSD for a cleanup and enjoy the outdoors while improving it!

Don’t forget, zero waste is a journey. You don’t get kicked out of the club if you slip up or struggle. With a family, this journey does take a little more effort, but your efforts will pay off for your kids. By following even a few of these tips, you’re helping leave the world much better off for your children (and eventually their children) to enjoy!

 

This article was authored by our Education Specialist, Alaine!


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