Trying to go zero waste is a great challenge to take on and a brilliant direction to head towards, but in real life actually creating absolutely zero waste is not achievable and I don't think it is always desirable. In some circumstances waste can be a good thing. For example:
- Let your kids waste food. It might seem like a waste in the short term if every time you offer them a carrot they throw it across the room, or just play with it instead of eating it, but kids need to be offered a new food a number of times before they will get to know and love it. It might not work with every food type (or every child), but the wider variety of food you can get your kids to eat the better. Aside from the health benefits it means that they are more likely to be able to take advantage of the food that is in season, cheaper and needs using up the most at any particular time.
- Try new foods yourself. There are foods that I really didn't like as a child that now I am an adult I quite like. Also every so often I come across a food I have never tried before and I give it a go. You will have the same advantages as above if you can broaden your range of food choices.
- Let your children get creative! Most of your kids artwork and other creations might end up straight in the recycling, compost or even in the bin, but if your children want to make up recipes, design models or teach themselves how to knit for example they will learn far more quickly from their mistakes than they will from closely guided successes.
- Make mistakes! There is something very powerful about learning to do things for yourself as you can control the process, ingredients, the packaging, where you get the parts from and so on. Making mistakes is part and parcel of this learning process though and there will most likely be things going in the bin before you get the hang of it. For example it took me several attempts before I mastered the art of making yoghurt but now that I have I make it all the time and instead of chucking hundreds and hundreds of yoghurt pots in the bin I don't put any in the bin.
- Use paper to communicate if needed! These days there are so many ways to communicate, that going paperless can make a lot of sense. However if you have got an important message to spread it might be that paper is the best way to do it. Not everyone is glued to a screen and even if they are it might be hard to get your message to the exact people you need to. For example in my neighbourhood there is a hedgehog monitoring project and I found out about it through the local newsletter. Some people would have just put the newsletter straight in the recycling, but enough people have joined in with the project and found out about other local info to make it worth while!
Don't be afraid to waste stuff if needed, sometimes it is the only way to learn, discover new things and communicate good ideas. There are always ways to limit the waste while you are doing it, but don't let worries about waste hold you back!