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Connecting environment and grocery shopping for kids

The connection between our environment and our purchase decisions is easily overseen. But once you see the amount of trash that is bought with every regular grocery shopping tour, you can’t make it unseen. Since I realized how much garbage I was producing by buying packaged groceries I want to make this visible for everyone else too, especially kids.

A package free grocery tour with my wonderful Hood River neighbors is a great start but now I also want to get my kids involved. As June is just 2,5 years old, I have to keep it simple for now. The environment is a too complex topic so outdoor places like the playground are our environment substitute. I made it a goal for me to pick up at least one piece of trash every time we’re there. What doesn’t seem to be something already has an effect: June picks up items that she identifies as trash and brings them to the trashcan, all by herself.

Grocery shopping can be fun with kids (when they are not hungry or tired): shopping cart race with pretended turbo speed, counting apples, picking the right bell pepper…

How are environment and grocery shopping connected?

So now I’m inventing games around packaging in the grocery store:

  • Potatoes snuggle much better in the cotton produce bag than plastic bags
  • Toilet paper towers (that works only with single wrapped rolls, not the huge plastic wrapped package)
  • scooping bulk oatmeal in our oatmeal jar

Even the toilet paper that we buy has an effect on the environment

The toilet paper paper wrapper is compostable, so this one makes a great ball for compost bin basketball later on. And the toilet paper roll snake that crawls on its own over the cash register conveyor belt to the employee is much fun too.

Fun games for kids during grocery shopping tours

That’s where we are so far. I’d like to get to a point where our ‘environment’ includes some animals to make it even clearer. The wildlife population isn’t huge here in the city but I might be able to point out trash close to squirrels or birds. We can save them from accidentally eating plastic and feel like great helpers…

What do you think? Do you have other ideas around packaging and trash for toddlers? Please let me know via the comments.

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  1. samantha lea says

    You could play “guess what” where she has to hold the things you buy and guess what it is. Take 5 items at random. If she gets 4 out of 5 she gets a treat? Like she gets to hand the money to the cashier.

    • Great idea! I haven’t paid cash in ages but I bet she would love to try to slide the card through the reader. Curious to see what the cashiers think 😀

  2. This is a great unexplored topic. I would love to get my hands on some simple essays or letters written by kids on their thoughts of growing up in a zero waste household. Kids are our planet’s future! I’m sure your kiddo loves picking out snacks from the bulk bins 🙂

    • That’s right. Last time we picked a small fruit bar as our snack and she loved them!

    • Aren’t they terrible? For small potatoes it’s almost as if they were packaged in sticker.

  3. My son pushes his own small cart and is “in charge of the produce”. And yes, they love helping, especially with the bulk bins. Telling him I “need his strong muscles to lift this because it’s so heavy” works well 🙂 Danielle- I think I’ll ask my kids candidly about zero waste and see what they say! June is adorable! It was hard when I had to shop with two but now I shop with one while the other is in school and it’s such an educational experience, for zero waste and for life in general.

    • I love those small carts!

      It is hard to go shopping with two when you’re on your own. I only do that when I just need a handful of things. We usually go for the big shopping trip all four of us together.

  4. Lauraki says

    I don’t go to grocery store. I have a weekly bag from farms which I compose on web. I took my daughter with me and she loves putting our stuff in our bulk bag! The same when we go to bulk store, because she also can choose some candy in bulk!

    • I had a farmers box too but I didn’t like it much. We ended up with more things we don’t eat and even plastic packaging in the box.

      • Lauraki says

        I can choose what I want inside. It’s wonderfull. There is still some plastic or paper bag, but it’s better and better. It’s Lufa farms if you want to check. They have there owns farms on roof of industrial buildings in Montreal.

  5. This is great Inge! I don’t have kids but love reading the ideas on how to get kids involved and how we can influence them. Like picking up trash for example. Great post!

  6. This is brilliant. Hopefully by the time your sweet ones are grown & grocery shop for themselves, zero waste will be the norm!

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