Getting kids involved in zero waste

My boyfriend has shared custody of his son so during the summer we have 15 days of each month with the adorable little monster at home. He is 8,5 and very impressionable. He has seen the change of lifestyle that we have made over the last few months and keep us and himself honest.

Just a few days ago he spent the night with his grandmother and took his football with him. On the way back she gave him a plastic bag to carry it more easily. He told her that he would return the plastic bag when he gets to us because we don’t use plastic at home. It really made it clear for me that when you talk, they really listen.

Explain and they’ll listen

I think the trick has been to not assume that he doesn’t understand. We explain exactly why we are eliminating plastic from our lives and the impact that is has on the environment. We didn’t use big facts of figures, but a few nice visuals that were impactful for a child.

Be consistent with your message

Kids need consistency to understand that a change is relevant. If they see you being wishy-washy about changing your habits, they will most definitely point it out. Don’t just preach to them, practice what you are teaching.

Empower them to make good choices

We never assume that because he is a child he cannot make good decision. After the bad ones we explain why it would be better to do things a different way. And if it occurs again we ask him what he could have done better. In the same way that we should we trust him but letting him help us cook and use the sharp knives, we are also trusting him with plastic free decision making.

Don’t be too strict

Be reasonable. You will have to make concession from having a perfectly plastic free life, especially when they are used to something else. Give them time to make the adjustment. Give them options to replace that things you would like to change. It’s a process, not cold turkey.

Make it fun and inclusive

Let them participate in selection of zero waste items. If you’re at the bulk store, let them help weighing and filling jars. Including them in the decision making make it much easier to get them to stick to the new lifestyle changes. For example, we love having pizzas as a family. So we started making them from scratch, with all natural plastic free ingredients, and included him during the entire process. He loved it!

How do you handle zero waste with kids? Let me know in the comments.


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