Minimalism is difficult- but doable. Until you have kids. Not only do they rapidly grow, constantly needing new clothes, toys, and accessories, they easily tire of the same old, same old. Your once pristine living room is now a mini playground and your porch has turned into parking for strollers and tricycles. Getting out the door, even for a grocery run, means packing for every eventuality and then there's the question of what you wouldn't do for just five minutes to yourself.
And on top of that, zerowaste often means a little extra work. But is it doable? Even with kids?
It's true that you'll have to pick your battles, but there are some cardinal habits that can make the lifestyle easier to implement, and maybe even achievable.
Buy in Bulk
Have you ever noticed how much waste is produced by baby and kids' snacks? Everything is wrapped in portions which, granted, are easy to grab, but also produce so much waste! Whenever possible, buy in big packs, or better yet, in bulk. From there, you can package them in the portions you want in the container you want, be that a snack pouch, beeswax wrap, squeezey, or a jar. Snacks like granola bars you can make yourself without resorting to wrapped ones, and Bulk Barn has plenty of other bulk options.
"No Gifts Please"
This is one that is especially difficult, because it requires you controlling other people. People love giving gifts to kids. The little things are so cute and adorable, it's nearly impossible to come empty handed to holiday or birthday celebrations! However, this is also a chance for you to educate those around you. To keep your home clear of useless items and things that come in excessive packaging, it's always easiest to say "no gift please." If the friend or family member insists, ask for it to knock off as many of the following as possible: consumable, homemade, recycled, package free, sustainable, biodegradable, and USEFUL! It might seem strange, but sometimes it's easier to just make a gift registry for items that you child needs. If you fear that this might be weird for some, just go NO GIFT!
Dress with Longevity in Mind
Being mindful with kids' clothing seems impossible because they are always growing and always getting dirty! However, that doesn't mean that your children need a million outfits. With laundry now a days, most of the time you won't even reach the bottom of the drawer before you pile on the outfits you just washed. The key is quality over quantity. Choose items that have been sustainable made with natural fabrics that will be able to take repeated washing and being worn by multiple children. There are North American companies like Cotton Vanille and Milkbarn producing "grow clothes" which fit kids for a longer period of time, making the extra money spent on quality and slow fashion worth it. Other options include shopping second hand, trading outgrown clothes with other families, or simply creating "capsule wardrobes" for each growth period.
Compostable/Recyclable/Reusing Activities and Toys
The toy industry is a large one, and it's not slowing down! However, every parent will be able to share in the feeling of being inundated with them. And it's not a good feeling! Instead of running to the toy store every time your kids seem to be bored with what they have, give them a chance to play creatively with items found in nature like flowers, sticks, pinecones, acorns etc. During other seasons, you'll be surprised with what you can make out of a empty water bottle, milk jug, or the fun you can have with simple wooden blocks. Sometimes it takes the parents' creativity to trigger the effect in their kids.
Do the Toy "Flip"
If you already have a lot of toys, consider doing a toy "flip" instead of getting rid of all of them just to buy them again later. Take half of the toys in your kids' room and put them into "hibernation" in your attic, basement, or even a closet. Your little ones will forget about them a play with what they have. Once they seem bored with the options they have, voila! You have new toys to offer them.
Of course there are plenty of other things you can do to minimize your waste generated by kids, but these five tips are a good starting place for your family's journey towards a #zerowastelifestyle.