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5 Ways to teach Kids to Waste Less

5 Ways to teach Kids to Waste Less

5 Ways to teach Kids to Waste Less is in collaboration with Terracycle.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that since my breast cancer diagnosis last year, I’ve been making some changes in my life in order to live healthier, more eco-friendly and more sustainably.

I’ve been learning new ways to recycle, reuse and waste less and as well as educating myself on these things, I’m passing this information on to my children too.

I thought I’d share a few of the things we’ve been doing so here are my ideas on ways to teach kids to waste less:

1. Use less

Are you kids as obsessed with tissues and baby wipes as mine are? If my baby goes suspiciously quiet, I know it’s because he’s found a box of tissues and has started to pull them all out of the box!

Apart from keeping these things like that out of reach now, I’ve started to talk to my kids about how we should only use these kind of products sparingly. It’s a waste of both product and money too.

For old papers and magazines, we let the kids use them for colouring and drawing on so at least they have two uses before we recycle them. I also made a pretty awesome cardboard car for my baby out of a nappy box recently!

Related: 18 Things I’ve Stopped Buying to Become More Sustainable

2. Recycle and discard waste correctly

On the subject of baby wipes, I’ve been teaching my kids that they should never be flushed down the toilet. I’ll hold my hands up that I do still use baby wipes for their convenience but I do limit the use of them and always discard them correctly.

5 Ways to teach Kids to Waste Less - How to teach kids to recycle How to reach kids to waste less Family recycling Eco-friendly Family

For years we have had 2 bins in our kitchen: one for general waste and one for recycling. We’ve found having two bins makes it really obvious to the kids that we are selective over which bin we put waste into. In fact it intrigues my daughter who which bin she should use when she’s throwing something away and why.

Every day we’re learning about new products that can be recycled and it’s so worth reading every single packet before you discard it in the general waste bin. For example, the capsules from our new Dolce Gusto Stelia machine can be recycled! Dolce Gusto have partnered with Terracycle who are committed to recycle the ‘unrecyclable’! I think it’s a brilliant and really worthwhile initiative.

3. Turning off taps and lights

When my daughter is cleaning her teeth, we’ve taught her to turn the tap off while she scrubs away and only turn it back on at the end to rinse. In fact on the odd occasion that we forget to do the same, she’s on our backs immediately telling us off! Miss M takes saving the planet very seriously, you know.

The same thing applies to lights and we encourage her to only use lights when necessary and turn off when not needed. Luckily, my kids sleep with the lights off.

4. Use washable products

Whilst we do use baby wipes for convenience, we have limited the amount of paper towels and tissues we use around the house.

It used to be second nature for me to grab kitchen roll to mop up every single mess but instead I now use old towels and clothes that can be washed and reused.

5. Waste less food

I’ll start by staying that in our house, no food is wasted. The kids have healthy appetites and any scrap of food that is left is swiftly eaten by my husband!

That said, we do try to not overfill their plate with food that they won’t eat. As well as encouraging portion control, we try to be consistent with the amount they each at each mealtime. It’s rare that they leave much food but we talk to them about how wrong it is to throw food away and sometimes save it until later when they’re hungry again. Which is normally about 5 minutes after they’ve protested that they’re full!

I love that my 3 year old is inquisitive about why we are doing our best to be less wasteful and the reasons why. She’s great at helping to keep us on track and stay accountable and as her baby brothers grows up, she’s going to love helping to teach him ways to waste less too.

We’re a work in progress and learning every day on the new ways we can waste less and live more sustainably.

What are your ways to teach kids to waste less?

Read next:

5 Ways to teach Kids to Waste Less - How to teach kids to recycle How to reach kids to waste less Family recycling Eco-friendly Family

Disclosure: Terracycle and Dolce Gusto kindly sent us the lovely Stelia coffee machine in exchange for this post.


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I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land I work and live on, the Awabakal peoples, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.
I thank them wholeheartedly and express my love and gratitude for the privilege to live and work in such a beautiful part of the world and for the opportunity for my family to be part of this vibrant and supportive community.