How Can I Have Less Waste At Home With Kids?

Once kids come into the picture, it can seem like the mess is never-ending. Whether it is food and toy wrappers, or constant growth out of clothes. It can be hard to manage the waste produced in a full house. So, what is the key to having less waste at home with kids?

The key to reducing waste at home with kids is to develop their sustainable thinking. Teach them about reusing and recycling. Explain that kitchen waste can be used for compost and that reusable containers and bags are good. Talk about donating old toys and clothes instead of throwing everything away.

Let’s talk more about the methods to reduce waste at home with your children.

Teach your children to think sustainably to minimise waste

The best way to reduce and continue to maintain lower rubbish levels in your home is to teach your children about sustainable thinking. Of course, when they are very young, it is up to you to be conscious of your household waste. But kids are very smart, which means you can begin teaching them sustainable habits early in their lives.

You spend time teaching your children how to put their rubbish in the bin. Then you teach them about recycling as they get a bit older. This is the base of kids’ knowledge of waste disposal. But one thing to remember is that kids are also creative. You can use this creativity to teach them sustainable thinking when they are young as a great way to help them reduce their rubbish.

Teach kids the three r's to reduce waste

Recycling is part of sustainable thinking that can encourage creativity. This is a great place to start with kids. Show them how cardboard, paper, old bottles and cans can be recycled into different creations. These could be decorations, vases, candle jars, and more! This is considered upcycling old waste and helps lessen rubbish at home while encouraging your kid’s creative mindset.

As your kids get a bit older, you can explain the three ‘r’s to them: reduce, reuse, recycle. They will already know about recycling, but this will help them further develop their sustainable thinking. Encourage them to recognise bits of waste that can be reduced, such as the use of disposable plates. Teach kids about reusing containers instead, and recycling plastics that can be used for other purposes.

The three ‘r’s thinking is the best tool that you can give your children to help have less waste at home.

Now, let’s look at steps you can take to reduce the amount of waste produced by your household.

Be conscious of food waste at home

According to the Australian Foodbank 7.6million tonnes of food are wasted every year. The biggest culprits are youths between the ages of 18 and 24 and families that have young kids. This is an example of where our three ‘r’s thinking can help influence our waste production from kids to new adults.

If you notice that there are lots of leftovers that end up being thrown out, you should consider reducing the meal portions you’re serving. Kids can be fussy eaters and while you can encourage them to eat as many veggies as you want, there are almost always dinner leftovers. This is especially so if your kids don’t particularly like the taste or texture of foods. They might also have eaten a lot across the day and not be as hungry at dinner time. Take this into consideration when making meals to ensure you don’t cook too much food. This will help reduce your food waste in the house with kids.

How to have less waste at home

Encourage your kids to use leftovers for a different meal either later or in the following days. This will teach your children not to waste food that is good enough to be reused at a later date.

You could also teach your children about using compost to dispose of food waste. Create a compost pile in your garden or have a compost bucket that you can take to a community garden. Teach your kids the rules of compost as a form of food waste recycling. This is a great way to introduce sustainable thinking and eco-friendly decisions.

Use the ‘first in, first out’ grocery method

Another great method to teach your kids to help reduce food waste in the household, is the ‘first in, first out’ method. This has to do with restocking your groceries. The newer groceries should be placed behind the older groceries in fridges and cupboards. This encourages them to be used first. At the same time, you can teach your kids about expiration dates to help make sure food is prioritised before expiry. All the while you are helping to stop more food waste by not forgetting about older groceries.

Avoid using disposable items in your household

The next way to have less waste at home is to use second-hand items.

Another way to have less waste at home with kids is to reduce the number of disposable items you use. You can teach your kids to use refillable bottles instead of disposable cups or cans. Throw birthday parties without disposable plates.

If you are getting some junk food, ask if you can use your own containers. The restaurants might not always agree. But this is a good way to reduce unnecessary waste at home. When you go out for coffee, take your own cup, and teach your kids to do the same.

Other ways to avoid disposables at home include:

  • Using reusable snack bags and washable containers for kids’ lunches.
  • Replacing plastic cutlery with silverware/dishwasher safe, reusable cutlery.
  • Use washable cloths instead of paper towels.

Buy second hand and donate old family items

Teach kids to reduce their rubbish

Buying second hand and donating old items and clothing is a great way to reduce the waste produced by your household. You help reduce the contribution to fast fashion and the garbage problems associated with consumerism by donating and thrift shopping. It’s so good that artists write songs about it! But maybe wait to show your kids Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’ until they are older.

Encourage your kids to give out clothes they’ve outgrown to their friends or relatives who might need them. Take them on adventures to op-shops, showing them how many useful things they can get from there.

You can also look into donating old clothes and items to charities and organisations. This will reduce your waste at home and can teach your kids about how donating old items can really help other people.

Other ways to have less waste at home

To have less waste at home, there are more habits that you can teach your children. These include:

  • Turning off the tap while brushing their teeth or while washing their hands because it can save up to 10 gallons of water every year.
  • Turning off the lights or unplugging electrical appliances when they are not in use to save energy. 
  • Storing food in the freezer to keep them fresh and able to use for longer.
  • Requesting for digital assignments instead of paper assignments. Since paper assignments end up getting thrown into the trash.

Teaching your kids to declutter and reuse their items will help them keep the home waste-free. You should be taking steps towards more sustainable living, setting an example for your kids if you want them to do the same. Have you considered using reusable nappies instead of disposable ones? This could be your first step to reducing waste after having kids. If you are looking at doing a big declutter session to reduce waste in your house, hire a skip bin!