10 Fun & Frugal Zero Waste Kids Activities

I love finding new activities to do with my kids and letting them get creative. The problem is that these activities are generally accompanied by both mess and waste. Paper, glitter, paints, and it’s not only the product themselves but the packaging they come in. The list of craft clutter is endless and as I’m getting deeper into my Minimalist journey, I’m realising this is not ok.

It’s not even about the clutter at home, though it is a biggie. As we learn more about the impact we are having on our planet, I’m realising that realistically 90% of these craft elements will end up as waste in landfill and I want to take more responsibility by contributing less to that.

It’s hard to feel like the bad cop parent when you’re always saying no to the wasteful tat in the store as you’re shopping. There always seems to be new craft packs for each new holiday and season.

The importance of being environmentally responsible is huge for our kids. We can only hope future generations are more intentional with their purchases and actions because of the examples we set from an early age.

Otherwise, what hope does the planet have?

I’ve created a list of my favourite zero waste activities. Some are from other fantastic mama bloggers for you to try with your kids. They’re fun, practical and educational. More importantly I hope they will offer opportunities for discussion about our fragile eco-system and that we really should be taking more responsibility for our actions. I know we can’t wait to try them out!

1.Have a rubbish-free picnic

Challenge your children to create a zero waste picnic. They could pack their own lunches with fresh fruits and sandwiches wrapped in beeswax wraps. Make your own treats packed in reusable tupperwares and use a refillable water bottle. Head out to the beach and enjoy knowing you won’t be leaving behind any litter when you head home.

2. Make a bar of soap

Use natural ingredients like goats milk and castile as the base for your soap. Add optional herbs (or flowers like lavender) and natural food colourings (from beetroot, for example) to experiment. It’s easier than you think, saves you money and allows you to create something fun with your family! So many wins!

3. Natural Treasure Trail

Head out into the garden, or take a trip to your local woodland area. Take a basket and fill it with all the natural wonders you can find. Write a list of all of things you could find seasonally. This is such a fun activity for children, and it’s super frugal.

4. Homemade Play Dough

It is so easy to make your own play dough and a great activity to do with your children. Use common cupboard ingredients with natural colourants from vegetable juices to brighten up play time. The dough can be easily stored for future use and it’s good to know that your kids are paying with natural

5. Make DIY Recycled Crayons

Are you sick of the half broken crayons littering the house? If you haven’t already decluttered these from your kids craft box, then they could be recycled and melted down into new blocks to colour with.

Megean from Zero Waste Nerd has step by step instructions to recycle broken crayons. Check out her awesome blog for other zero waste tips, too!

6. Beach Combing

This is similar to the woodland treasure hunt, but if you’re lucky enough to live on the coast then beach combing is an exciting alternative. Different natural elements are washed up on our shores every day, providing a fun natural treasure hunt for your children.

Unfortunately a lot of unnatural items also end up littering our beaches from the oceans. Why not set a good example and clean up washed up rubbish from your shores. This will help local and marine wildlife and preserve your coastline.

7. Make a Natural Bird Feeder

Combine a selection of bird seeds and fats to create a zero waste bird feeder. To create the feeder, pour melted lard over seeds in a shaped mould. Place a strand of yarn in a loop into each mould and allow to cool fully to solidify. Remove and place in your garden to help your local wildlife, especially in the winter months.

8. Rock Crafts with chalk

Decorate rocks with chalk for a zero waste crafting option. Use water and rocks with different textures to create a sensory activity for younger children. Collect a variety on your natural treasure hunts to combine activities!

9. Leaf People

Collecting leaves in the autumn can be used for so many projects, like collages or making wreaths. Why not make them into little leaf people?

Melissa from mymommystyle.com has a great post about how to make these leaf people with your family. Her version does involve some gluing on to paper, but you can easily place them on a concrete area in your garden. Moving the different shaped leaves around freely is more mess free and would make the project zero waste.

10. Homemade bath paints

Make edible paints from leftover yoghurt and natural colours to use at bath time. This fun activity makes any mess super easy to clean up and is way less toxic than standard store bought options. I’ve used the bath crayons before, but there is so much left over packaging and one has actually left a bright blue stain in my tub.

This version also makes it safer for preschoolers to play. My 18 month old still likes to put everything in his mouth, crayons included. At least if he decides to chow down on this paint, I don’t really have to stop him.

Do you have any favourite low or zero waste activities? I’d love to read about them – comment below!

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