A realistic guide to zero waste parenting

Happy Earth Day!

To celebrate this incredibly important observance day we’ve put together this guide to realistic zero waste parenting.

Firstly, let’s clarify some things!

The trendy zero waste lifestyle is just not realistic for most normal people, going ‘low-waste’ is much more realistic. And here’s where to start!

Going low-waste starts with understanding where the problem lies:

Throwing stuff away!

Did you know 300,000 pieces of clothing head to landfill every week in the UK?! And most are in perfectly good condition.

The key to be more sustainable is changing this mindset of buy  use  throw away and instead turn it into something that looks more like this:

We’ve broken these down into steps, along with some inspo to help you work towards going low-waste.


This one is all about gifts! Refusing gifts can be really difficult, even downright impossible but new toys, clothes, bottles, disposable diapers account for a huge amount of waste in landfill.

One way to navigate this is to plan ahead and communicate honestly with the gift-givers.

Baby shower? Birthday? Or another celebration coming up? Try one these:

· If you feel comfortable to do so, create a list that people can purchase off if they want to. There’s your chance to ask for eco-friendly and reusable items.

· Communicate that you either don’t want gifts, would prefer money or second-hand items.

· Ban celebration cards. Most cards aren’t recyclable and although can be repurposed for crafts, it’s best to reduce their numbers in the first place.

· Or finally, ask for homemade items.

But unfortunately, in some cases, this just isn’t possible.

If you do receive new gifts then you can always re-sell or donate them – giving these items a second life, saving them from laying in landfill.


There are thousands of baby and toddler products out there, targeted ads showing you ‘essential items’ that you probably would never even use.

This step is all about limiting the number of things you purchase, focusing on the actual essential items your little one will need.

To help you limit purchases we recommend making a list of the things you need and doing research on eco alternatives to help you not just be more sustainable but also save you money!

‘Reduce’ isn’t just about reducing how many baby products you buy, it can also be applied to other parts of your life, for instance, food packaging (for you and your little one).

For instance, pre-made baby food comes with a large amount of waste – the jars or packets they come in mostly. But did you know pre-made baby food isn’t actually all that good for your little one?

Not only is it expensive but doesn’t have as much nutrition as when you would make them yourself at home from fresh ingredients - click here for an all you need to know guide.

Once your child is a little older you can do more to reduce waste, for example:

- Involve them in baking their own snacks

- Save leftovers

- Make your own ice lollies

- Grow your own fruit and veg (click here for our gardening guide)


Second-hand items may feel a bit taboo – if you have enough money for new ones why would you buy used right?!

But actually buying (and reselling) second-hand won’t just save you money but is a great way to be more sustainable in daily life.

You’re giving these items a second (third or fourth) life, saving them from polluting the environment.

Why not try to…

- Borrow off friends,

- Accept hand me downs,

- Visit charity shops,

- Buy second hand on eBay, Gumtree, Facebook or Vinted.

Alternatively, to reduce your waste you can purchase eco-friendly reusable items.

These can include cloth nappies, washable baby wipes, reusable baby bottles and more.

You can also actively try to repurpose various items. In our nurseries, we love repurposing old items for activities and arts & crafts!

Anything from delivery boxes and loo rolls to old jars can be used to make awesome art, all whilst helping your little one develop their skills (like creativity, confidence, fine motor skills and more!).

You can check out our activity guides by clicking here.

Compost and Recycle

This one is pretty self-explanatory – the less you put in the usual waste bin, the less waste you produce. One way to do this is to compost and recycle items.

And the more you let your child get involved in the process, the more they will understand that throwing something away does not exist – it all goes somewhere, creating an impact, whether that’s a positive or negative one.

The best way to get started is by having a look at your local council’s website.

There you’ll be able to find more information about composting (if you’re not able to do this at home) and what items you’re able to recycle in your area.

Additional resources

Gardening know how - composting at home guide

We are teachers - earth day crafts

The Butterfly Patch - 6 ways to reduce your carbon footprint

The Butterfly Patch - sustainable parenting guide (with product recommendations)

The Butterfly Patch - 7 ways to save money on energy

Mama minimalist - low waste parenting

Mama eco - zero waste parenting tips