Finding ways to reduce waste with kids can be pretty challenging, they just come with so much stuff! But after nearly twelve years of parenting, and two years of this journey, I’ve picked up a few tricks to help minimize the environmental impact our family makes.
Reduce Waste With Kids is a three-part series with tips for moving your family towards your earth-friendly goals. All of these suggestions are things that my family has done or that we are currently working on. Keep reading for eco-fun!
***I have linked to outside products, but I have no affiliation with any of them. These are just recommendations I have for things that I like!**
1. Be conscious with infant feeding.
When it comes to reducing waste with kids, breastfeeding can seem like a pretty obvious solution. It requires no extra packaging, it produces no waste, and no extra energy is used (other than the sleepy mom’s, of course. 😉)
But this all changes if you are expressing milk and using single-use plastic bags to contain and freeze portions. Purchasing a gently used breast pump and replacing only the tubes is a great way to reduce the waste. Taking good care of your machine so that you can pass it along again is even better!
Choosing a milk-storage system like the Philips Avent Breast Milk Storage Cups allows you to reuse your packaging. These are plastic, but they can be used repeatedly then passed along to be used some more, making them a better option than the disposable, single-use bags.
For formula-feeding families, the biggest impact will come from staying away from convenience-sized packages of formula. Stick to the bulk-size containers and divvy it up as needed, using your stash of tiny mason jars!
If you can, choose formula packaged in tin or cardboard and stay away from the plastic containers. If plastic is your only (or best) option, pop on Pinterest and search for fun ways to reuse the tubs! (This formula from Costco is definitely the best value, and it is what we used for about a month with my second child after I went back to work full-time!)
Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, you can reduce your waste even further by being conscious when you are purchasing bottles. A few things to consider:
- Opt for glass or stainless-steel bottles instead of plastic. It’s definitely more expensive, but if you can pick up just one (we went for the Pura) in lieu of plastic, it makes a difference!
- Choose bottles that come in paper or cardboard packaging instead of plastic. (This one in a bit challenging if you are buying online.)
- Reuse, sell, or pass along any glass or stainless-steel bottles to future babies!
***I 100% believe that FED is BEST. Whether you are breast- or formula-feeding, we all just want the best for our children.***
2. Make your own baby food
This is another awesome way to reduce waste with kids! Making your own baby-food purees does take some extra time, space, and planning, but once you get into a rountine it’s absolutely worth the effort.
Full Disclosure: I made about 95% of the purees and food that we fed our second son, but I opted for store-bought for my third. I really enjoyed using my Baby Bullet (more on that soon), but I was struggling with my mental health after my last pregnancy. I just didn’t have it in me to plan and prepare this time around. That said, I still highly recommend making your own food!
Ok, so the Baby Bullet is actually a great product to use! I received ours as a gift from my colleagues and it served us well. The kit comes with everything you need for preparing, storing, and serving up your baby food! My only recommendation would be to purchase an extra tray for freezing your portions. This will allow you to make bigger batches and will save you a ton of time and effort. I love the silicone trays, like this one, because it is incredibly easy to pop your frozen portions out into another container for storage.
Making our own food absolutely saved us a ton of money and waste! And the best part is that I sold my Baby Bullet for $30 when I was done with it! (I hung onto all of the original packaging and made sure the components were in excellent condition.)
When it comes to waste, store-bought baby food is a massive culprit. All (or nearly all) store-bought baby food comes individually portioned and packaged. So, if this is your exclusive source for baby food, there’s really not much you can do to save waste. Opting for food packaged in glass rather than the plastic pouches would definitely be a great step, though! And (of course) don’t forget to check out pinterest for amazing ways to reuse all those tiny glass jars!
3. Practice Baby Led Weaning
Baby Led Weaning (BLW) has become a massive movement in my generation of parents! From the website Baby Led Weaning: “Baby Led Weaning, quite simply, means letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning.”
With this method of introducing your baby to solid foods, you completely avoid any extra waste! This is the method we chose after about a month with purees for our youngest son. It does require a small amount of prep, but there are so many amazing resources available on (you guessed it) Pinterest!
I won’t go any further into BLW here, but if you have any questions just fire me an email!
4. Avoid pre-packaged, or individually packaged, snack foods
Just like baby food, individually portioned and packaged snack foods pose a huge problem when you are trying to reduce your waste. This is absolutely my personal weak-spot. Granola bars, yogurt tubes, applesauce pouches, snack cakes, and single-portion cheeses are all main-stays on our grocery list.
In Spring 2015, while I was visiting my sister in Kingston, ON, she took me to Hip Kids (you should go!) and I found these awesome Little Green Pouches. My goal of reducing my family’s waste was still quite new, and I was so excited with this find! It really got me thinking of all the ways I could start to reduce our snacking waste.
Because snacking is such a huge source of waste in our home, I’ll dedicate an entire post to it soon. But in the meantime, here are a few super-simple ideas to get you started!
- Use pouches, like the Little Green Pouches, for snacks like applesauce, purees, pudding, etc. These pouches are really popular right now, and are perfect for smooties on the go!
- Stock up on seeds, nuts, and dried fruit from your local bulk store. These can be stored in mason jars, and then easily tossed into a container or reusable snack bag as you head out the door. (Please be considerate of food allergies when packing nuts)
- Keep fruit and veggies prepped and ready to go. You can pop some into a container, a reusable baggie, or even a mason jar!
5. Always carry at least one sturdy water bottle
I’ve saved the easiest tip for last! I’m not sure about your kids, but mine suddenly become dehydrated as soon as we leave the house! Making sure you have at least one dependable water bottle with you is a great way to reduce waste with kids.
I try to remember to fill up a bottle for each of us before we leave the house. More often than not, though, I either run out of time or I simply forget. When this happens, I typically end up purchasing beverages for everyone. This costs a small fortune and creates a pile of waste.
By stashing a spare bottle in your vehicle, diaper bag, or purse, you decrease your chances of being caught without something for your parched kids. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, an extra mason jar is perfect! You can fill it up almost anywhere and your family will be saved. 😉
And that’s a wrap for Part Two! It’s a lot of info, but I think food is where we have the most opportunity to reduce waste with kids. Did I miss anything important? I’d love to hear from you, so pop a comment in the space below ❤
Reduce Waste With Kids is a three-part series with tips for moving your family towards your earth-friendly goals. Check out Part One – Bath & Body Care here! And don’t forget to subscribe so that you don’t miss out on the fun!