This post contains affiliate links to products I recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost you. You can find the full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
The beginners guide to zero waste for families wasn’t written to make anyone feel guilty.
We all need to start doing our best collectively, and that looks different for some people!
Making these switches in our own homes will bring about the most change.
Instead of tearing people down for not doing enough, we need to educate, build people up and support the shit out of each other.
I recently saw a quote that pretty much sums it up-
We don’t need a thousand people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing zero waste imperfectly.
Food waste is a huge problem in the world. 1.3 billion tonnes gets lost or wasted every year. Ideally we wouldn’t even be producing this much waste but here we are.
Instead of wasting valuable resources by sending your kitchen scraps in a plastic bag on a giant truck to sit at the landfill, try composting them:
- Save vegetable scraps (like celery ends, carrot ends, onion tops, whatever isn’t actually bad just the ends you’d cut off) and throw them in a big container or bag in your freezer. When it’s full, make a giant homemade veggie broth like this one!
- Build your own compost bin if you have the space in your backyard. It’s honestly as easy as screwing some boards together in a square or rectangular shape. If I can do it, you can do it too 🙂 Here are some ideas to get you started!
- If you don’t have space, look for a local composting program where you live. A lot of community gardens may have a compost heap you could drop it off at. In my city, there’s a ‘green bin’ program where you can pay a fee per month for them to come pick it up curbside, which is really nice.
- Compostable bags are an absolute game changer. The indoor container you use on the counter won’t get smelly and it’s just a neater ordeal to take out the compost in a bag.
- This compost bin has been the best one we’ve used yet, simply because the lid flips open and comes off. Plus it’s dishwasher safe, super easy to clean!
SWITCH TO CLOTH DIAPERS
In your babies first year of life, they will go through 2500 diapers.
Let that sink in.
FIVE HUNDRED YEARS.
What are we doing to our planet?
Switching to cloth diapers even part time is VERY good for the planet. You’ll keep the disposables out of the landfill and save some money! Especially if you buy used cloth diapers or scoop them up for free from a relative or friend who is done with theirs.
Using cloth wipes is also a super easy way to cut down on waste. Most baby wipes are not biodegradable and are full of some crazy ass chemicals.
You know that squirt bottle they send you home with after you give birth? I’ve used it since we brought my first daughter home to wet down the wipes! Here’s a homemade wipe recipe:
- filtered water, almost to the top of the bottle
- a few drops of castile soap
- 1 tsp witch hazel
- 1/2 tsp almond oil
- 3-5 drops lavender essential oil
BRING YOUR OWN BAGS TO THE GROCERY STORE
This is such an easy switch and will save SO MUCH plastic from being wasted. Here are some crazy facts about plastic bags:
- Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
- 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags each year.
- The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.
- Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes.
Please don’t read this and start feeling depressed and hopeless. The fact that you are here, reading this, right now is so unbelievably powerful.
You clicked on this article for a reason and that reason is-
we are all waking up.
So instead of being stressed and depressed about this, know that you are already doing something positive!
We bought these bags and they are good for produce as well as bulk things like lentils, beans, quinoa, etc.
Try to find stores that offer a bulk section. Either big grocery stores or specialty ones that are geared toward zero-waste.
The specialty stores even offer:
- dishwasher soap
- laundry detergent
- bubble bath
- essential oils
- peanut butter
- you name it!
And you can bring in your own jars and containers!
BUY YOUR KIDS CLOTHING AND TOYS SECOND HAND
There are lovely consignment stores for children, meaning they only take really good quality stuff. Winter jackets and boots, all types of clothing, shoes are just some of the things we buy second hand.
Kids go through things so incredibly fast, sometimes they outgrow something before it’s barely been worn. You can find brand name (if that’s your jam), barely been worn clothes and shoes for so cheap.
But hey, we’re human too and sometimes cave and pick up a cheap shirt from Wal-Mart because it’s easy and accessible.
We try so hard to not do that. Check out ‘The True Cost‘ on Netflix.
Buying toys second hand is especially easy when they’re young, cause guess what? They DON’T CARE that it isn’t brand new! They’re just psyched to be getting a new (to them) toy 🙂
Does your city have a toy library?
We have a few that are usually in a community center or church basement. It is a great way to avoid buying new toys all the time and keep your kids excited about the new things in the house!
Sometimes, we don’t give our kids enough credit. They inherently want to do what’s right and aren’t selfish.
Talk to your kids candidly, they may surprise you!
I get that a lot of us don’t want to be seen as ‘weird’ or ‘out there’ with how we are raising our children. Talking to family members about buying second hand toys for birthday presents is a great way to reduce waste and most people are becoming aware of our need to do this.
You may be surprised how many family members are on board too!
START TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN YOUNG
It’s never too late to start teaching about the state of our Planet.
We can’t just be telling them how awful things are and the whole world is going to shit.
But you can educate them, build them up and let them know that they are freaking superheroes. Why? Because they are taking a stand to do better.
And you know what?
You’re a friggin superhero too.
BONUS ZERO-WASTE TIPS
Did you know you can email Amazon and ask them to use the most minimal amount of packaging? They’ll make a note on your account for future orders too. It’s pretty awesome!
Stainless steel straws are something we use EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My kids love them, I love them. They are worth every penny and can last a lifetime!
Something that we can all start doing is emailing companies and telling them we won’t be buying their products any more because they come in too much packaging.
Or you can always email and ask if they have their own recycling program for a particular type of waste!
‘A Plastic Ocean’ on Netflix is a great way to get informed about what’s happening and what you can do about.
Where are you at on your zero waste journey? Are you just beginning or have you been trying things out for a while? Let me know in the comments!
So much love to you and your family on your journey, you got this❤