GREEN TWEEN: Top 10 tips to involve your kids in reducing waste

This week we welcome Melanie from Life is For Living, our first guest contributor for 2018! Melanie started Life is For Living last year with a goal to support sustainable living through inspiring blogs and supporting local Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges business through an online directory. She has since branched into local marketing consulting for small business giving these local businesses an opportunity to free their time for their passion. You can follow Melanie on Facebook and join her Facebook community group here.

Last year I watched an amazing ABC program ‘The War On Waste’, which changed my life and my family’s life forever. This was one of the most eye opening and truly scary programs I had ever watched. The amount of waste we produce as a country is overwhelming with one in every five bags of groceries we buy going straight to the bin in waste. So rather than sitting back and thinking how sad this is, that there is nothing we can do, we decided to make the change. To be honest with you my kids, at ages 5 and 11, are now far greater eco warriors than I will ever be. This is what I want to see all of our future generations growing into; true Eco Warriors. No this doesn’t mean you need to wear tie-dye clothes and walk around barefoot, it simply means living a simpler life, a life that gives more thought to our environment. The time is right now to take a stand and be the change you want to see in our beautiful world. To get you started, I have compiled a list of my top 10 ideas for involving your tweens in reducing your home waste. This is not an exhaustive list but a good starting point. I work on the idea of making one change a month, this way it’s not too overwhelming. Let’s get started!

  1. Buy a small rubbish bin – Do away with the huge bin that sits under your bench and buy a small bin for your counter top. This will remind you and the kids about the waste you are creating. It will encourage you all to think, “Does this belong in landfill or recycling” before you bin it. You will be surprised how quickly your habits can change with this visual.
  2. Handkerchief – These were a fave of my dad’s growing up to wipe our faces with a bit of spit. Turns out he was onto a good idea. Think of how many tissues the kids blow through with every cold they get and the number that end up in your landfill bin? Scary thought really.
  3. Reusable drink bottle – Invest in good quality BPA free drink bottles and take it everywhere with you. They come in a huge range of colours and styles and patterns, sure to please the coolest teen.
  4. Start a veggie patch – Growing your own beautiful fresh veggies is better than anything else. Not only will you save money in the long run, but think of all the plastic produce bags you will go without when you don’t have to visit the produce department at the supermarket. Kids love being outdoors and encouraging them to take ownership for their garden is an experience that will grow with them. Even if your plot is a planter box on your deck something is always better than nothing. This will also teach your kids that veggies come in all shapes and sizes. The perfection (brought on by masses of waste) that we see in the supermarket is totally false.
  5. Compostable toothbrushes – We have just made the switch to SASA bamboo toothbrushes which are 100% compostable including the packaging. Added bonus they deliver to my door every two months. These rather funky looking brushes are a great alternative for your kids especially when you team them with home-made toothpaste in a reusable container. Even if you don’t have a compost heap, pop them in your green waste bin and they will decompose.
  6. Stainless steel straws – Are your kids forever drinking juice and soft drinks from bottles with a straw? Plastic straws are the worst thing for the environment because they are so light weight, they often end up down drains and straight to the ocean. A sad sight to see a dolphin with a straw in its mouth. So switch to stainless steel, they are reusable basically forever and easy to clean with hot water. Add them to school bags and keep some in the car for those family day trips.
  7. Recycle soft plastic – We have reduced our huge land fill bin by using our Redcycle bin. Every day any soft plastics we use from packaging go straight into this bin and once filled, we take the bin to a drop off centre where it will be recycled. All of their information can be found here.
  8. Reusable lunch wraps – Beeswax wraps and reusable fabric pouches are a staple in our home now and have replaced plastic zip locks and cling wrap. Not only are they better for the environment but they keep your food fresh and can be made at home with a few simple ingredients. If you have crafty kids they could make their own or at least be a part of choosing the fabrics for the wraps.
  9. Shampoo and soap bars – With so many fragrances to choose from, soap bars are one of my personal fave changes that we have made. I am loving heading to the local markets to see what I can find. You will find soaps suitable for all skin types and shampoo bars suited to all hair conditions. Generally these come wrapped in paper or paper boxes which can be recycled with ease. What about conditioner? I use a spray bottle filled with Raw Apple Cider Vinegar and my hair is shiny and clean all the time.
  10. Reusable pads – This one is for the lovely young ladies. I will be honest and thought at the start YUCK I don’t want to do this. However, I am proud to say that after 37 years I have now made the change to reusable fabric pads and I couldn’t be happier. Many businesses also make a teen starter pack in super funky colours. My recommendation for school will be to provide them with a little waterproof toiletry bag to bring home used pads for cleaning. These are really the most comfortable option for teens. I highly recommend Mense Sense however there are many on the market.
Melanie Grant

Mel’s personal long term goal is to live a totally self sufficient life in her tiny house, on a block of land with a veggie garden and orchard. This is a dream for the future but for right now her goal is to live as sustainable as possible and reduce her carbon footprint on this amazing earth. Being a mum of two amazing children she is also helping them grow to take responsibility for their decisions on this earth and help them see that every choice we make has an effect on the world around us. She wants to leave a positive legacy for future generations.


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