In recent years, the Zero Waste concept has received a lot of attention as a sustainable lifestyle choice. Zero Waste parenting is a movement aimed at reducing waste and minimizing environmental impacts linked to raising children. This includes increasing children's sense of responsibility and awareness regarding their impact on the planet.
With the right mindset, resources and support, zero waste parenting can be a viable and rewarding way to raise environmentally conscious and socially responsible children. In this blog, you'll find some tips for implementing zero waste parenting.
- Waste and parenthood
- Zero Waste habits for children
- Buy second hand
- Zero Waste meals
Waste and parenthood
Reduce waste by buying products with no or less packaging and avoiding disposables.
For example, you can switch to washable diapers. These diapers are reusable, producing less waste than disposable diapers. This is good for the environment because disposable diapers take a tremendously long time to decompose in landfills. Moreover, this also releases harmful chemicals.
Washable diapers are also better for your wallet. With disposable diapers, you easily spend between €800- €1.800 for a 3-year supply. With washable diapers, the cost is between €240-€1.350. If you would like to, washable diapers can even be used for multiple children, or passed on to other families.
When children go to school, parents have to buy new school supplies every year. These include pens, pencils, notebooks and other materials. Consider buying these products in bulk to reduce packaging waste (for example, a large package of notebook paper). You can also consider purchasing refillable products, such as fountain pens. Finally, it's best to purchase products made from sustainable materials - such as recycled paper, bamboo or wood from sustainable sources.
Children's apparel and toys
Children grow quickly and, as a result, parents often have to buy new clothes. This can result in piles of clothes being thrown away. Even unused toys often have to go through this process. In this case, consider donating these items to a charity or thrift store, or sharing them with other parents. You can also turn old garments into rags for cleaning or coasters for messy art projects. Finally, you can make sure that the products you buy are made from sustainable materials, and that the items you throw away are properly recycled. In doing so, you can take advantage of our free pickup service.
TIP: There are even subscriptions that grow with your child. When your child's clothes no longer fit, you send them back and receive a new package. Convenient!
Zero Waste habits for children
Parents set an example for their children. So make sure you set a good example yourself regarding a Zero Waste lifestyle. This means reducing waste and conserving resources whenever possible. Involve your children from an early age and teach them about the importance of sustainability.
Learning through playing
It is important to educate your children about reuse and recycling in a playful way - after all, it should be fun. There are various tools for this, such as The Waste Game (Het Afvalspel). This way, you make sure they sort their waste and throw it in the right bins. Learn something when you’re young, and you’ll never forget it!
It also helps to encourage your children to get creative with the topic. For example, challenge them to create works of art from recycled materials or to reuse old items in new and creative ways (“Upcycling”).
Shopping independently for groceries
You can also teach your children to shop consciously by explaining the effects of packaging materials. For example, collect together all the plastic from a single trip to the supermarket. This will show them the importance of choosing reusable products. Next time, you can give your child a shopping list where they can go on their own scavenger hunt for the most sustainable options.
Celebrate the successes
Celebrate the successes of your children's waste reduction efforts, no matter how small. This will help reinforce positive behaviors and encourage ongoing efforts to reduce waste.
Buy used items for your children whenever possible to reduce waste and conserve resources. There are several online marketplaces where you can (re)buy secondhand items, including Marktplaats, Vinted and United Wardrobe.
There are also outdoor markets where second-hand items are sold. Here you can find clothes, antiques and household items, for example. Some popular markets in the Netherlands are the Waterloopleinmarkt in Amsterdam and the IJhallen in Amsterdam-North. On Koningsdag, bargain hunters can even go all over the country! Visit this website for a list of flea markets taking place in the Netherlands. Visit one of these events together with your child - a fun and educational day!
By the way, second-hand (children's) book stores also exist. Some popular second-hand bookstores are Bookstore Antiquariaat De Roo in Amsterdam and Bookstore Donner in Rotterdam.
Zero Waste meals
Food waste is still a big problem. You can combat this as a parent in the following ways:
Plan your meals for the week in advance and make a shopping list of the necessary ingredients. This will prevent you from buying unnecessary products that are past their expiration date. Before preparing a new dish, check your refrigerator and, if necessary, use leftover products in your recipe. You can also organize a "leftover night" where you combine different leftovers into a new meal.
Use the entire product
Many parts of fruits and vegetables that are often thrown away can be used in cooking. These include carrot tops, celery leaves and broccoli stalks. For example, carrot tops can be used to make pesto, and broccoli stalks can be added to soups.
Buying bulk packs reduces packaging waste and also helps you save. We understand that it's nice and easy to buy individually wrapped snacks like Smoeltjes, Prince or Verkade. However, single packs are not only bad for the environment, but often also for your child's health. In fact, these products are often high in sugar. Unpackaged fruit can be a great alternative for children who like sweet treats. Find more healthy snack ideas for your child in this artikel.
Prepare meals at home and freeze them in reusable containers to reduce the amount of packaging waste generated by buying ready-made meals and snacks. Cooking at home also allows you to retain complete control over the ingredients your children ingest.
If you have food items that are still good to use, but you can't use them yourself, you can donate them to a food bank or community organization. This way you help your fellow man and prevent these products from ending up in the trash.
Store and carry food
Reuse packaging materials whenever possible. Consider glass jars and/or hard plastic lunch boxes instead of sandwich bags. You can also switch to washable lunch boxes and cloth napkins.
Composting food scraps
Composteren is an easy and effective way to reduce waste and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle. Set up a compost bin in the backyard to compost fruits and vegetables.
What could you compost?
You can compost fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, grass clippings, leaves and paper products.
How do I store the food scraps?
Collect compostable materials in a container with a lid and store them in a cool, dry place until it's time to add them to your compost bin.
How do I compost?
By composting, you can reduce the amount of waste your family produces and create nutritious soil for your garden. In our blog home composting: a compact guide, you'll find everything you need to get started at home. You can do the compost activities with your kids to help them understand how the garden works.
Responsible waste management starts at an early age. By applying the above tips in raising your children, you will reduce your waste as a parent and help your offspring develop sustainable habits that will benefit them and the planet in the long run.