Skip to main content

Go green with these zero waste tips

Source: Andrea Sanchez Unsplash photo of boy holding plant
Children are becoming increasingly switched on to environmental issues, and they're asking more questions about waste and the planet. Encourage this way of thinking and become an eco-friendly household with these practical tips from an extract of Be the Change: Rob Greenfield’s Call to Kids.


    Go green: start decluttering

    Open your closet. Look in your drawers, cupboard, backpack. Do you need it all? Do you love it all? If you don’t, you’re like most of us. Thanks to online shopping and big-box stores, we can buy more and more stuff anytime, anywhere. And while that sounds like a good thing, it’s really not.

    Decluttering will take time and energy – and no, it won’t always be fun. It’s best to have a plan:

    • Set goals, even if they’re small (i.e, I’ll declutter one shelf in my closet)
    • Focus on clearing out what you no longer use, what’s broken, or what you’ve outgrown
    • Create a place for everything. If you have a box for games, a shelf for books, and a bin for craft supplies they’ll be easier to find when you need them
    • Put on a clothing swap with friends and donate any unclaimed clothing
    • Stay positive. Even if you only part with one thing today, that’s a start!

    Go green: reduce, reuse, recycle

    For a week put all of your waste into a bag. Include recyclables but not food waste or liquids. Carry your bag as often as you can. At the end of the week, weigh all your waste. Next, sort your waste into piles – plastic bottles, packaging, tin cans, and so on. Which piles are the biggest?

    The rule of three Rs

    • First, reduce. Ask yourself, do I really need this, or do I just want this?
    • Then, reuse everything you can for as long as you can
    • If reduce and reuse won’t work, make recycling your last resort

    Go green: eco-friendly diet

    There are many ways to eat healthy food, reduce your impact on the planet, save money, and align your food choices with your ethics.

    • Eat more plants such as vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds
    • Remember not to waste food and to compost whatever can’t be eaten
    • Make it yourself. Find a simple recipe for smoothies or bread instead of relying on shop-bought versions. Your home cooking will be cheaper, tastier and healthier. Make a big batch and freeze the extra in reusable containers. Or share with a neighbour
    • Shop locally and buy food that was grown locally
    •  Pick whole foods instead of processed. These are the foods with one ingredient, not a long list
    • If you can, grow some of your own food. If you don’t have space for a garden, find out if there’s a community garden nearby that you can join

    With a shift in perspective, all of these positive steps can come naturally.

    Go green: stop water waste

    Our home water use accounts for only 5 per cent of our total water use. Driving a car or surfing the web uses water. The items we buy at the shop also use water. How? Water is needed to grow, make, and transport our things and food. It’s also used to create energy.

    • Eat more veggies, fewer industrial animals. You can save up to 600 gallons (2,271 litres) of water a day by eating more plant-based foods instead of factory-farmed animals
    • Wash clothes less often. Wait until you have a full load before you run the washing machine
    • Flush less often. If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down. You can also put a bottle of sand or a brick in the toilet tank to displace water. With each flush, you’ll save that volume of water
    • Fewer, shorter showers. Every minute you shave off your shower will save about two gallons (7.5 litres) of water
    • Turn off the faucet. When you brush your teeth, turn off the faucet after you wet your toothbrush. This can save up to five gallons (19 litres) of water every time

    More ideas for zero-waste living and helping the planet

    If you’re feeling inspired by these suggestions and want more, you can purchase the full book now.

    Rob Greenfield is an activist, an adventurer, and a popular YouTuber who donates 100 percent of his profits to environmental causes. His dream is to make a positive change in the world, by whatever means possible (for instance, wearing an outfit made entirely of his own waste for an entire month!). 

    Give your child a headstart

    Give your child a headstart

    • FREE articles & expert information
    • FREE resources & activities
    • FREE homework help
    By proceeding you agree to our terms and conditions. For information on how we use your data, see our privacy policy. You will receive emails from us but can opt out at any time.