Next Up

25 Ways You Can Help Your Family Be Zero Waste

Choose the path of zero waste or low waste – whatever you want to call it – and learn about ways to ease your family into an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money off these affiliate links. Learn more.
1 / 26
Photo: iStockphoto/Rawpixel

Small Changes, Big Impact

There’s no denying that every single one of us can do more to reduce our impact on Mother Earth and live with a more environmentally mindful purpose. While some changes are small and affordable, others are investment-worthy and require more lead time. That’s all to say that a zero-waste family lifestyle isn’t something you’re going to roll into overnight; it requires attention, practice, teamwork and willpower, but it’s not impossible! Best of all, demonstrating new practices in front of your kids and engaging them in the process will make it easier for them to adhere to the same habits in their own lifestyles as they grow up.

Keep in mind that even if all you’re able to manage for your household is a change that reduces 10% of your waste, you’re still doing good for the environment. (Zero-Waste Chef crunched the numbers, and it’s pretty compelling.)

The easiest way to make small changes in your family’s lifestyle is to pay attention to your consumption habits and the types of things you find the family discarding on the regular. Find new ways to accommodate your lifestyle from that intel. Set small goals, then stretch goals, and gradually work your way up to a lifestyle that allows you to be successful in your own way. Here are 25 simple ways to get started.

More photos after this Ad

2 / 26
Photo: Debbie Wolfe

#1: Carry Reusable Grocery Totes

Opt against plastic and carry along your own bags on your next grocery run. Remembering to bring them to the car after they’ve been emptied is the hardest part for me. You can get small bags that fold into a small square that fits in your purse, if that’s easiest. But somehow, kids are really good about remembering these details, so ask them to remind you to bring your reusable bags, too.

More photos after this Ad

3 / 26
Photo: Shutterstock/279photo Studio

#2: Pack Reusable Lunch Plasticware

Cut your demand for plastic wrap, sandwich baggies and prepackaged lunch fixings, and make a small investment in reusable containers instead. Glass containers will last the longest, but plastic alternatives are the most kid-friendly for school lunches.

More photos after this Ad

4 / 26
Photo: Shutterstock/Joshua A Houck

#3: Commit to Second-Hand Shopping

Control the impulse to buy all of the toys and new clothing off the rack (even if it’s mega on-sale). When you need something "new" such as a one-time-use kid’s outfit for a school concert, check consignment shops or borrow from a friend. Opt for hand-me-down toys. Have a stash of exclusively secondhand clothes for daycare and camp, and when your family has outgrown them, hand the items down to friends, consign them or offer them to donation sites in your area.

More photos after this Ad