“But I have kids, so…” is something I hear often when talking with people about living a lower waste lifestyle. “Kids come with a lot of stuff” being the other one. But do they? Or is it really just marketing, perceived convenience, and well-meaning relatives? No matter where or how you begin to lower your waste, it can be done with kids! The key is go at an appropriate pace for you family and involve your kids as much as possible.
A common refrain is that a low waste lifestyle with kids is too hard, but says who? It doesn’t have to be that way! Check out these 10 tips for how to go zero waste with kids.
Parenting is always a little easier with a village to support you. When you begin your sustainability journey, it might feel like you are the only one trying to make the change. Looking online for other parents with a similar mindset is inspiring and a great source of practical tips and information. Depending on your platform of choice, you can find people doing the eco-parenting thing on blogs, Pinterest, in Facebook groups, on YouTube, even TikTok. Keep things simple and pick your platform of choice to find a community to share with.
I prefer Instagram, so these folks are all people I have personally connected with other there. They all regularly share their experiences about navigating a low waste life with kids. Many of them are also active on other platforms or have really helpful blogs or podcasts, all linked below. Check them out and see what might work for your family too!
Joel Ussery – @sustainajoel
The elusive zero waste dad! Most of folks in the zero waste movement on social media identify as women, but don’t think for a minute that men aren’t out there doing the work! Joel shares how his family lives a low impact lifestyle on both Instagram and TikTok – everything from zero waste tips, plant-based eating and avoiding food waste, to gardening, solar energy, and prioritizing secondhand items. Joel lives with his wife and two small children in Northern California.
April – @zerowastedork
April (she/her) is a half Chinese, half white mom living on Duwamish land (Seattle) with her partner and two kiddos. She’s not an expert, just a regular person doing her best to learn as much as she can and to live out her values. As the only zero waster in her household, she tries to show the reality of living “zero waste” through the hashtag #ZeroWasteIRL. She advocates thinking beyond plastic packaging to consider the systemic aspects of waste, who has access to a zero waste lifestyle, and the radical changes that must happen at the societal level for a climate friendly future to be possible.
Sophi Robertson – @yourecofriend
Sophi was my first zero waste friend! I went out of my comfort zone by going to an event she put on in Toronto and just walked up and said hello. Sophi is a zero waste speaker and consultant, with a focus on supporting local small business, using what you have, and buying secondhand first. Her family’s journey to a zero waste lifestyle was recently profiled in Toronto Life magazine. She is also one of the co-founders of the WE-Solation web series on YouTube, featuring practical skills with tutorials from the sustainability community around the world.
Leah Payne – @leahstellapayne
Leah Payne is a writer, environmentalist, and mom based in Vancouver, BC. With a background in magazine editing and a Master’s in Library Studies, she loves writing and researching! Leah aims to create accessible, actionable, and empowering sustainability content that educates and inspires. Her website is a wealth of information and interviews about all things low waste. When she’s not working or running around after her toddler son, you’ll probably find her sipping tea or tending to her balcony garden.
Renate – @renatebakes
Renate (ren-ah-tah, she/her) recently switched careers after completing her Geography & Environmental Science degree at UCLA, where she will return this fall to begin a PhD in urban agriculture. Based in Long Beach CA, she works with local food system non-profits to expand urban agriculture, advance food justice and policy, and connect farmers with their local communities. Her spare time is spent gardening, cooking, and enjoying her toddler twins (conceived via IVF). She also hosts the “Burning Issues Book Club” which focuses on environmental justice.
Kids are people too.
They deserve to be incorporated into the zero waste movement.@naturally_tess_
Tess – @naturally_tess_
Tess is an earth conscious mama (with a toddler and a baby on the way!) passionate about suburban homesteading, low impact living, and enjoying a holistic lifestyle in the Appalachian mountains. She shows you how to reduce waste when you don’t live in a city or have low waste/bulk shops nearby, and shares her plant-based food diaries every Wednesday. Check out her YouTube channel for everything from gardening to DIY skin care.
Jessie Stokes – @tinyyellowbungalow
Jessie runs the Tiny Yellow Bungalow online zero waste shop and was one of the first blogs I found about practical zero waste and plant-based living. She is passionate about sustainability and so generous with her knowledge and positivity. Jessie has an adorable toddler son and lives with her family in Athens, Georgia. You can also find her on Facebook and YouTube.
Nash Gierak – @defyingspace
Nash is a writer, content creator, and consultant based in London, England. She began documenting her experiences living in a 35sqm attic flat with her partner and son as a way to show how sustainability and minimalism could work hand-in-hand in a small space. Nash has turned her specialized knowledge of zero waste and minimalism into a popular podcast. How to Be a Minimalist (The Sustainable Way) was released on iTunes in February 2020 and forms part of a greater project, which will include an online course, and a book. Head to her website for more info!
Meera Jain – @thegreenmum
Meera Jain is an eco-blogger, elementary school teacher, and mom of two young children. Her goal in life is to make living green accessible and easy to all. Since learning about zero waste, Meera and her family have significantly lowered their waste and their carbon footprints. Based in Toronto ON, our paths have nearly crossed a few times and hopefully will for real very soon! Be sure to check our her website for recipes, resources, and tons of eco tips.
Jess Purcell – @thoughtfullysustainable
Jess Purcell is a chemistry teacher turned stay-at-home parent who is passionate about explaining the science behind sustainable living. She is the creator of #sustainabilitysciencesunday, a weekly Instagram series of simple sustainability science experiments that can be done at home. Jess lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids, and two cats. She can usually be found outside, either digging in her gardens, hiking with her family or attempting to read a book while being cajoled into a game of hide and seek. You can now also find her on YouTube.
Connecting with folks online is a great way to gain confidence in your knowledge and skills, making it easier to talk with your friends and family should the opportunity present itself. Community is a key component of sustainability, so be sure to seek out local groups and events that appeal to you as well. We have made friends with wonderful families this way! The best part of parenting with a zero waste mindset is raising responsible and engaged citizens with a strong sense of social justice and love for the planet.