How to Teach Your Kids to Reduce Waste

After we started traveling, we quickly realized it was our job to help protect the planet we travel and love so much. I wasn’t sure where to start, but now, we’ve found some simple and family-friendly ways to help reduce waste in our home. Here are a few smalls ways you can make a big impact.

Lead by Example

My mom told me, “You are teaching your kids something new every second of every day.” That’s such a huge and awesome responsibility, and I do my best to outweigh the bad lessons with the good. Growing up, I didn’t think about my carbon footprint or environmental impact at all. I rarely recycled or paid attention to how many paper towels I ripped off the roll. That’s all changing in our house, and I hope my kids grow up with our planet on their minds.

Donate items you no longer use or need

Twice a year (or more), I go through our home and pack up what we can donate to our local church or Goodwill. Also, we often shop for toys, books and clothes second-hand to reduce waste in our home. I hate when I have to throw something away that I know someone else could use. We sell used items online, and we belong to our local Buy Nothing group as well. Little by little, I think these efforts add up to make a big difference.

Kick the plastic at home

I’ve found our quest for a plastic-free home to be the biggest challenge along the way. We hike a lot, and I used to pack our snacks in small plastic baggies. I quickly became aware of how much waste we produced in one afternoon. Not anymore! We switched to reusable bags for our snacks and our shopping trips. I don’t hoard plastic bags in our pantry anymore, and I try to avoid plastic containers. We bought Lunchbots stainless steel lunch boxes, and we use our Ziparoos reusable bags almost every day. I went one step further, and we started using Grove Collaborative products too. I put my cleaning supplies in glass bottles and shop for their sustainable products as often as I can. I love that they’re trying to go plastic-free by 2025.

Protect the environment any way you can

We joined WildKeepers this year, and we upped our efforts to keep the trails we love clean and free of the trash. It amazes me when I see a gorgeous hiking path littered with a ton of debris. Honestly, it makes me mad. Leave no trace! That’s what I teach my kids when we’re out and about, and they’ve developed habits at very young ages that protect our planet. Sometimes, I have to pull out a pair of gloves so they can pick up trash they see as we’re entering a grocery store. But, I take the time to do it; otherwise, I’m not practicing what I preach. And yes, it isn’t very pleasant sometimes, but I try to encourage them as often as possible.

Ditch Paper

This week, I ordered reusable paper towels from Grove Collaborative. I haven’t quite figured out if this will work for us or not, but I’m going to do my best to make it work. The roll of washable and absorbent towels comes with a stylish paper towel roll for counter storage. After we use one, we drop it in a bin in our pantry or one of our hampers to be washed with the next load. It cuts way back on the paper we throw away every day. Also, I don’t set paper napkins on our table at home either. I use cloth napkins.

No matter what, Recycle!

We partnered with Recycle Cartons last year to help families learn how to recycle their cartons properly. Now, we make every effort to recycle everything we can at home. When we’re on the road, we don’t always have access to recycling bins, and I’m almost to the point where I’ll pack it up and bring it home with us. It breaks my heart to throw it in the dumpster. Either way, when we can’t skip the plastic (or other recyclable material), we’re careful to throw it in the recycling bin at home.

Comment below and let me know how you reduce waste at home. I’d love some more ideas!

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