Five Simple Ways to Help Your Children Live a More Sustainable Life

This post is in partnership with IKEA, all opinions are my own.

I believe most parents want their kids to inherit a cleaner, greener world. As an adult I try to live a greener life, and I want to be an example to my kids as well.

Today, there are so many opportunities for kids and adults to live sustainably, many of which are things our grandparents probably did without thinking. As a society we’ve been accustom to convenience, but sometimes that means more waste and it isn’t always best for the world we live in.

5 simple ways

I find that the easiest way to get my children involved is to make greener choices the most convenient option in our home.

IKEA has some great inexpensive items you can use in your home to help your children learn how to live a more sustainable life. In fact some of these items are so popular you probably already have them in your house.

Use less paper products in the kitchen. 

If you know me, you know I love my paper towels, but I also try to use dish cloths and rags whenever possible.

To make this happen I have a drawer of dish towels in my kitchen. We use them for drying dishes and hands and cleaning up spills.

IKEA dish towels

We use two to three towels a day and I throw them into whatever load is in the wash at the end of the day.

Every few months the dish towels get moved to the rag bin and we replace them with fresh towels. Not only are we creating less waste, we are saving money by not using a roll of paper towels every single day.

ikea towels 2

Having the towels close to the sink and easily accessible encourages my kids to grab a cloth towel instead of a paper towel when they need it.

Smaller bowls = less food waste.

 Most of my children have eyes bigger than their stomachs and tend to take huge helpings if I’m not watching. Usually they can’t finish their food because they filled their grown-up sized plate with a grown-up sized portion.

I solved this problem years ago by using the dishwasher safe, unbreakable IKEA plates and bowls. They are cute, colorful and small!

Kids can’t help but take smaller servings on these kid sized dishes and if they are still hungry they are always welcome to get seconds, or even thirds.

IKEA bowls

Ever since I started using smaller dishes for the kids we throw away significantly less food every week.

I also use these plates and bowls for myself! They are great when you want to track how much you are eating and make sure your portions stay in check.

Reusing bath and pool towels to save water and money.

With six kids at home, we do a lot of laundry. One way to live a little greener is to encourage the kids hang up their towels after their showers instead of getting a new one every time. (There are even hotel chains who are rewarding guests with extra points for doing the same thing!)

However, it can be hard for younger children to reach the towel bar in most bathrooms.

We install a lower towel rack in our bathrooms so the kids can easily hang up their towels after they swim or take a shower. If the towel is hung up immediately after they use it, it can be used for several days without smelling gross.

When we rented our house we used the over the door towel racks so the kids always had a place to hang their towel. We also use them for pool towels and guest towels. This rack from IKEA has pads on the hanger so you don’t damage your doors when you use it.

Make it easy to recycle.

We have two recycle bins outside, but I don’t always want my younger children going out at night by themselves to throw something in the bin.

Keeping a small bin inside the house encourages kids of all ages to recycle and makes it easy for them to put boxes and cans in the bin throughout the day.

Ikea Recycles

A small lightweight container like the IKEA DIMPA fits anywhere in your home and has handles so it is easy to carry out to the recycling bin several times a week. It folds up when not in use so you can put it away if necessary.

I’ve come to realize that if I make it easy for my kids to do something, there’s a significantly greater chance that it will get done when I’m not around to remind them to do it.

Encourage outside free play.

One of the best things we’ve done as a family is live close to green spaces (or have a large yard for the kids to play).  Our kids love being outside, and finding fun activities that don’t require a ton of resources or electricity.   outdoor play

Not only does outside free play give them the opportunity to appreciate the world around them (and hopefully help keep it cleaner) it limits their screen time.

I hope as they grow older they will continue to appreciate the environment around them and be good stewards of their resources.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Items you throw away every day that you can reuse or recycle

This year I have partnered with IKEA to share fun ideas on how you can live a more sustainable life. All opinions are my own. 

Have you wanted to reduce the amount of waste you create every week, but don’t have a lot of time or space to manage the excess?

As someone who loves a clutter-free home, I’m often tempted to throw away anything that I can to keep my house in order. However, I want to be conscious of the environment and repurpose and recycle whenever possible.

How to reuse everyday items in your home.

The key for me is to find systems to help you stay organized while being resourceful. Over the years I’ve come up with several ways to recycle and reuse without filling my house with empty toilet paper rolls and cereal boxes.

IKEA is my favorite place for finding inexpensive items to help keep my home organized. They are stylish, easy to assemble, and are great space savers in the home. Their flat packaging makes them easy to transport home and usually I have my purchases assembled and in use by the end of the day.

In this post you’ll find some of my helpful tips when it comes to reducing waste. These are five items you are probably throwing away, that you could be reusing in your home.

Food

Have you ever tried making your own compost bin? You can make a basic one out of a large plastic trash can with a lid. Before the items make it to the compost bin outside, this cute miniature KNODD can works perfect under the sink in the kitchen to hold items for composting.

How to compost in small spaces

Line the can with a paper bag (recycled from the grocery store) to make clean up easier and instead of scraping food off the plate into the garbage or disposal you can scrape it right into the can under your sink. Once the can is full dump it into the larger compost bin in the yard. Remember to never compost meat or fats.

Dryer sheets

I love they way dryer sheets make my clothes feel, but it seems very wasteful to use them once and throw away. Dryer sheets have a long life after they’ve made your clothes less static-y so save them to use around the home.

My favorite use is to place the used dryer sheet in a pan that has baked-on food. Fill the pan with water and add a used dryer sheet. Let it soak over night and the next morning the baked on food will come right off.

You can also use dryer sheets to dust blinds, keep drawers smelling fresh, and de-stinkify smelly tennis shoes.

how to reuse and recycle old dryer sheets

Store used dryer sheets in a cute container like the FRYCKEN basket in the laundry room or kitchen.

Towels

In our house towels go from pristine “guest bathroom condition” to “clean up the dog’s mess condition” in a less than a year. Instead of throwing away our frayed towels I reuse them as cleaning rags around the house.

how to reuse towels around the house to reduce paper waste

I cut large towels in half or thirds for smaller rags and store in OBSERVATÖR bins in the laundry room or kitchen for easy access. Instead of grabbing a paper towel to clean (or clean up a mess) I use a rag which can be easily washed and reused. I keep a bin next to the washer for dirty rags and throw them into the laundry every few days.

How to reduce and reuse every day items in your home.

Glass jars

Instead of throwing away empty glass jars (think spaghetti sauce or pickles) you can repurpose them all around the house. Glass jars are so trendy right now and there are so many ways you can reuse them. Here are some of my favorite ways to reuse glass jars.

ideas for reusing mason jars

• Vase
• Catch all for the laundry room
• Leftovers
• Dry goods
• Drinking glasses
• Craft projects
• Bathroom storage

Store glass jars in a rustic pine KNAGGLIG box on an open shelf or in a cabinet for easy access.

How to compost in small spaces

Paper

Paper is easy to recycle with your community program, but it’s also something you can reuse in your home.

Did you know that you can use shredded paper as bedding for your plants? Place a layer of shredded paper in your flower beds and cover with a thin layer of mulch. You’ll save money on mulch and the paper will decompose and fertilize your garden.

how to recycle shredded paper

I keep paper trash in a separate KNODD bin in my office so it doesn’t get contaminated with other garbage. Once a month I shred it and reuse it.

how to reuse shredded paper

The next time you are tempted to throw something away, think about how it can be reused instead. Many times reusing a household item is not only the most sustainable option, it’s a money saving option too!

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Gardener’s Hand Scrub

The following is a guest post from Merissa from LittleHouseLiving.com.

Do you hear it? The birds have begun their yearly song…spring has arrived! On our little farm, this is a time of great preparation. I’ve started working on some simple meal plans that will get us through the summer when it’s too hot to want to cook much and when we are too busy to go to town often for groceries.

I’ve already planted my seedling starts and in just a few weeks it will be warm enough here in South Dakota to plant them outside in my garden.

I love to garden. It’s been my passion for many years to use my garden to provide as much food as I possibly can for my family. But of course, we all know that it’s not easy or clean work! We not only have a garden to sustain ourselves but we also plant extras to preserve food for winter and to sell at the local farmer’s market. By the end of the day I’m tired and full of dirt.

The signs of a good gardener right?!

handscrub1

That’s when I pull out my jar of Gardener’s Hand Scrub to clean and freshen up. It’s so simple to make with just a few basic ingredients! Today I’m sharing the recipe with you so that you can enjoy using it this summer just as much as I do.

Gardener’s Hand Scrub

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar (white or brown will work)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  •  ½ cup coconut oil
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and the salt.
  • In another bowl, melt the coconut oil until it’s liquid. (Or you can stick it in the microwave for a few seconds.)
  • Pour the coconut oil over the sugar mixture and mix all the ingredients together until the sugar is thoroughly coated.
  • Add a few drops of the tea tree essential oil and give the mixture another stir to incorporate it throughout, then pour the scrub into a container or jar that can hold at least 2 cups.

Store in your bathroom or wherever where you regularly wash your hands after coming in from outside.

The sugar and salt will scrub any garden goo from your hands.

handscrub2

The coconut oil helps to rehydrate your hands after you’ve worked with them and scrubbed them clean, and the tea tree oil is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and antimicrobial, so it adds several great properties to the scrub. You could also replace the tea tree oil with lavender essential oil since it has similar properties.

This simple hand scrub will help to keep your hands clean and free of dirt, no matter how much you work in your garden this summer!

Merissa Alink loves making the most with what she has and she blogs all about it on LittleHouseLiving.com. You can find her recipe for Gardener’s Hand Scrub and over 130 other DIY recipes in her book, Little House Living: The Make-Your-Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life, which is available on Amazon.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

We Need Your Gardening Tips!

frugal-gardening-tips

Do you love to garden? Over the years we’ve done a variety of different types of gardens with our kids. They love growing their own food and it’s been a great way to get them to try new things as well.

I’m always looking for new gardening ideas and tips. Do you have a great one you’d like to share? I’m working on an gardening ebook and I’d love to include your best gardening tip!

Anyone who submits a tip will receive a free copy of the ebook when it is finished. I’d love to learn from you and help encourage other readers to give gardening a try!

If you have a tip you can submit it below. If you have more than one tip just refresh this page and submit a new tip.

Gardening Ebook

  • Please leave a link to your website if you have one.
  • Please share your best gardening tip here.
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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.