03 May Kids and Zero Waste
Have you heard about headlines such as “Want to fight climate change? Have fewer children”. The Guardian and many other newspapers are trying to inform us on the massive impact our children have on the environment. In fact, a research published in ‘Environmental Research Letters’ states that having one fewer child would save a parent 58.6 tons of CO2-equivalent per year. Which is 24x bigger than living without a car and 279x bigger than recycling. Wow!
It’s shocking and important to be aware of the consequences of overpopulation on our planet. Yet, if you read this article chances are high you already have children; they are part of the lifestyle you have chosen. If you are like me, then you love your kids, you would do everything for them, you want to ensure the best possible future for your them. Sounds familiar?
Cool, but the bad news is that the future is not that predictable anymore. Global warming, animal extinction, pollution, plastic in the oceans…all of this is real, and it’s not getting better. We do not want to live with a constant bad conscience due to our kids’ carbon emissions, that’s for sure. But I am convinced that we can change a tiny bit our habits, adopt some measures, try out some ideas to reduce emissions as a family, reduce our waste and live more in harmony with nature. Every little change counts, will motivate other people to follow the same path, will positively impact our own health and the health of our planet.
You think that this is impossible, that you can’t influence the way your children live, that it’s too much of a constraint and will cost you a lot of money? If that is the case, how about you start looking at zero waste from a different angle? How about turning the idea around and framing it as a fantastic educational and learning experience for your family? You can open your minds to new horizons, let conventions go and find out what your real values are. You can make it a fun family project and challenge (or even competition). You can lead by example and teach your kids values and habits that will become natural and stick with them for life. Preparing them for a better future.
The amazing thing is that it’s your own, personal journey. You can take decisions at your own pace, change habits if they fit your lifestyle and values, decide if you want to keep the project for yourself or communicate it to friends. Just make sure it represents your beliefs, that you feel comfortable with it and that you make it fun.
Enough talking, here some concrete ideas and Geneva addresses to inspire you and your family:
Toddlers: Babies are a huge waste producer, when you think about diapers, industrial baby food and clothes & equipment.
- Baby equipment: Think twice before buying anything, get advice from other moms. Most things are close to useless or you will only need them for a very short period of time. Think about borrowing from friends & family, renting or buying second hand (Anibis, Leboncoin, FB Marketplace…).
- Clothes: Did you know you could rent baby clothes in Geneva? (Les ptits louent, Bibou’tic) or alternatively buy second hand (Petit Marché).
- Diapers: Why don’t you try the washable diaper service from eco-couches.ch?
- Food: Obviously the best option here is to make the baby food yourself. Buy in bulk and local as much as you can. Check out: La laiterie de Carouge, Le Bocal Local, Chez Mamie, Le Nid, your local markets on Geneva portal, l’Union Maraîchère de Genève, and many more.
Small kids: This is where you can start including zero waste in your educational habits. Kids love nature, they love activities, they love to organize and are curious about everything. Have fun!
- Renting books & toys: Go to your local library and ludothèque. How many toys do you have that your kids only played with when they were new? Renting toys allows for a nice rotation without getting cluttered!
- Birthdays: Ask for and offer presents that are second hand, self-made or activity based. Wrap them in a nice piece of cloth (Furoshiki). Invest in sustainable, reusable plates, straws, cups etc. Instead of buying decoration, prepare things yourself together with your child, they will be proud about it and get even more excited about the party. Do not offer plastic bags with plastic toys and wrapped sweats to all the kids, think about a sustainable solution. Pinterest has a lot of great ideas for zero waste birthdays.
- DYI: Instead of playing video games or watching TV, take quality time with your kids and get creative. Produce toys out of waste, create animals out of toilet paper rolls…the sky is the limit.
- Go for adventures: Spend time outside, camp, go to the woods, explore the flora and fauna, swim in the lake there is so much to do around Geneva! Don’t forget to teach the kids to leave each place in a better state than they found it, make them aware of the litter.
- Declutter: Reducing the amount of toys kids have is very beneficial: tidying becomes easier, the kids are less overwhelmed, take better care of their belongings, and leaves space for creativity. Let them decide which toys to keep or to donate, and allow them to bring the toys to the donation sites themselves. (Emmaus, Recyclerie Solidaire, Freecycle)
- Food & snacks: Talk to your kids about season fruits & veggies and bring them with you to the market or bulk stores, replace single packed snacks healthy nuts, seeds or cookies. Reuse leftovers (e.g. put broccoli left over in a quiche), invest in reusable containers, teach your kids about the different materials (plastic, wood, linen…) and how a compost works, start a veggie garden or balcony…and the list goes on…
Bigger kids: Bigger kids can have fun around zero waste family projects or even challenges!
- School: Find long lasting reusable school supplies (e.g. steel vs. plastic ruler), ask them to reduce paper waste as much as possible.
- Stop using plastic bottles: Buy them a cool reusable bottle, e.g. Qwetch Bottles.
- Save water & energy: Turn off the water when brushing teeth, switch off lights when leaving a room, take shorter showers, use the short cycle toilet flush…make it a competition!
- Compost: How about setting up a compost as a family experiment? You’ll see how much fun it is to observe the waste transform into nice fresh earth for your plants. There are indoor and outdoor options, get advice from your closest garden store.
- Repair vs. throwing away: Could you teach your kids to repair their belongings? Check out the bike repair projects as an example: Ge Repare
- Take some time with them to explore the closest recycling plant, raise their awareness on where all our waste ends up (e.g. Usine des Cheneviers)
- Second hand: Take them to choose their favorite item at a local second hand store from time to time.
Let me know your feedback and ideas and have fun with your zero waste journey!
If you want to know more about how to organize for kids and integrate the zero waste mindset at your place, sing up for our spring workshop!
Price: 45 CHF
Place: Exploracentre, Rue des Bains 33 – 1205 Genève
May 23, 2019 : A zero waste kitchen
June 6, 2019 : Time management – prioritization and planning
June 20, 2019 : Paper management and personal administration
July 4, 2019 : The KonMari method – clothes