**Written in collaboration with Grace Stewart. Grace is a sustainability blogger, baker, mum and nature lover. You can follow her on Instagram @plasticfreegrace.
Living a zero waste life style isn’t something that happens overnight. For most of us, living truly zero waste is pretty much impossible. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to reduce the waste we create.
Here are a few tips on how to reduce your family’s waste without having a breakdown!
Don’t try to do it all: Pick one area to focus on.
Get your family involved! If your kids are old enough, educate them on why reducing waste is important and the ways in which you can do it together, as a family!
Make it fun: It is NOT something that needs to cause undue stress and anxiety.
It doesn’t have to be pretty
Don’t worry if you slip up
Don’t try to do it all. Pick one area to focus on.
This might be as simple as deciding to refill your washing up liquid instead of buying a new bottle every time. If you usually shop at a supermarket, this might feel more challenging as it will involve finding a refill shop (and a convenient time to visit) and remembering to take your bottle to refill. If this is the only switch you are able to make, don’t worry! You know that every little bit helps and it is a good start!
Get your family involved.
What is something you and your kids eat a lot that you buy in plastic packaging? In my house, its pasta! Now this is where refill shops become even more practical. Instead of going to the supermarket and buying 5 packets of pasta, you can take your own container or bag and refill the WHOLE thing. Take your kids and get them to help. This is exciting! They get to see all that pasta and maybe they will even get involved in cooking the meal with you. For some kid friendly recipes and interactive cooking lessons check out Bryony's site at In-Sinc Wellness. Bryony teaches the kids at Wivelsfield Primary school how to cook different recipes every week in a safe way where they can learn new skills and taste new flavours. You can find her website here for delicious recipes and the cook school information.
Another great way is through books! One in particular being 'Uh Oh' Said Flo by Uh Oh Books. The lovely Sam and Rachel have joined forces to 'create a simple, interactive and fun solution to discussing the challenging topics of pollution, global warming and environmental issues!'. They are engaging children in understanding the environment through some beautiful illustrations and activities that are fun for all. Scrapless will be stocking their books come November, just in time for a perfect Christmas present for the little ones in your life. You can also find them on Instagram @uhohbooks or read more on them on their crowdfunder page here.
Make it fun
Are there things you can do to make zero waste shopping easier for you?
This can take a little preparation in the beginning, but will become second nature. Make yourself a little zero waste shopping kit. I have a basket that gets filled with jars and containers that need refilling. If your kids have favourite snacks (for example, dried mango cheeks) then let them be responsible for the container to refill!
Are they growing quickly and you find yourself buying new clothes all the time? Head out on a spree to your local charity shops and grab some second-hand clothing, books, toys etc. Doing so won't break the bank, the kids can help choose their own things to buy and you are helping the environment by giving something a new life, stopping it going to landfill. You could also pick something lovely up for yourself too!
It doesn’t have to be pretty!
In my house, I love being able to see what I have in my cupboard or on my shelves. With food displayed in glass jars I can see exactly what I’ve got. Maybe you want to make space for a little refill section in your kitchen cupboard. (But this doesn’t mean you need to buy new glass jars – just go through your recycling, wash jars and remove the labels!)
Perhaps use old flannels/ reusable wipes for washing instead of cotton wool. They can be used time and time again by chucking them in the wash and saves you going out and buying more!
Don’t worry if you slip up.
Don’t expect to become zero waste overnight. Reducing your waste is tricky but reducing the waste of your whole family is an even bigger task. And sometimes your kid just MUST have a rice cake or a bag of crisps RIGHT NOW. You don’t have to make reducing your waste into one big battle. Just do what you can, there’s always tomorrow. (Check out Two Farmers for crisps with home compostable packaging!)
Other useful links and tips
Wild Tribe Heroes Books (https://wildtribeheroes.com/the-books/
Facebook groups to join: Zero Waste Parenting UK, Zero Waste Baby Sussex (Also on Instagram)
Wooden toys instead of plastic ones work a treat
The kids can eat what you do so you are not making extra meals. Freeze kid friendly portions so you can always have food available if need be.
Perhaps buy gender neutral colours if you are considering a second child so don't need to re-buy clothes if they are the opposite gender.
Try putting a wish list together so friends and family can buy what you need for the kids birthday's/ Christmas so they don't end up with loads of the same things that could make being planet friendly harder.
Thank you to Laura from @ourplasticfootprint on Instagram for some of the extra tips!