Sustainable Living With Children

Let’s get real: If you have children at home, you know how quickly familial harmony turns into chaos. Mountains of diapers, toys on the floor, screaming kids, and all the dirty dishes. Bringing order into a life with children is hard enough, doing it more sustainably feels overwhelming. I agree, it does. But a few tips here and there might help.


1. Exchange instead of buy

Instead of constantly buying new things, invite a few friends with children and exchange clothes, toys, and tools. Your children will love it. Other kid’s toys are always more exciting than theirs.

This, of course, extends to adults. Next time, instead of buying new clothes, ask your best friends or a family member. Maybe they’d love to exchange some pieces. My wife does this extensively with her 3 sisters.


2. Gardening with children

Planting a few herbs in the backyard or on the balcony, getting to know nature’s wonders, fostering your own vegetable garden. These are great activities to do with your kids while also helping the environment. It’s a valuable lesson to learn: Growing something yourself, and enjoying the taste of it later.


3. Replace plastic

Once the old stuff served its time, try to replace plastic with other materials: Discard to-go bottles, cutting boards, lunch boxes, or straws made of plastic and replace them with glass, stainless steel, or wooden alternatives. Oftentimes, they’re comparable in price.

We use bamboo toothbrushes, for example. They cost little and the kids love them too. After they’ve been used for a few months, we don’t throw away these bamboo toothbrushes; we use them in our garden to label herbs and veggies. Just stick the toothbrush head-first into the ground and label the top half with a permanent marker. Practical and beautiful.


4. Minimalism in the children’s room

With younger children that are growing rapidly, the wardrobes are always filled with outgrown or torn pieces. The toy boxes are jammed with unnecessary stuff.

It is worth going through children’s clothing. They might even enjoy helping with it. Give items away to siblings, friends with kids, or donate them.

Repair torn items. My sons always come home with ripped knees in their pants. Sowing on a patch instead of buying a new pair is an easy fix.

Getting rid of toys is much more difficult, in my experience. My kids won’t let go of toys even if they haven’t played with them for ages. Sometimes, it helps to donate those toys or exchange them with other kids in kindergarten or at school.

Finally, think twice before buying new clothes or toys for the kids. Buy second-hand clothes instead. And concerning toys: Kids are imaginative, they always find something to play with.


Key Takeaway

To recap the 4 tips:

  1. Exchange instead of buy
  2. Gardening with children
  3. Replace plastic
  4. Minimalism in the children’s room

Life with kids is a challenge in and of itself. It shouldn’t hinder you from trying to live more sustainably though. Quite the contrary, kids love to learn with you. They don’t know the wrong ways to do it yet. Why not teach them the right ways from the get-go instead?

“Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good.” — Jochen Zeitz.

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