Written by Claire Summners aka Zero Waste Maman

Seven little tricks to achieve parenting with less waste by Zero Waste Maman.  You can find out more about Claire by listening to her podcast episode here.

zero waste maman

Who is Zero Waste Maman and what started you on this journey?

Zero Waste Maman is a mother of two under 5 who is learning to parent without convenience and for the Maman part, without her mother. Being a motherless mother I’ve found very hard at times so in an epiphany moment I realised if I documented how to live in the manner my french Maman brought me up, it would be of great help and comfort. So here I set up Zero Waste Maman and share my tricks to achieve parenting with less waste.

I started my Zero Waste Maman Facebook page in 2017 because I wanted to vent online about waste and all the waste that was associated with bringing up children, and food. I was healthy but being healthy also meant filing my kitchen bin up with so much plastic packaging I knew I had to change how I shopped. When I became a Regional Rep for Surfers Against Sewage and started Plastic Free Seaford my life changed. I learnt more about how plastic pollution was devastating the ecology of the oceans; no life in the ocean remains free of plastic.  It’s in all of the fish mankind eats.   The Earth’s ocean’s provide countless benefits to our planet and all the creatures that live on earth not least the fact the ocean produces over half of the worlds oxygen and absorbs more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.

I don’t like waste, I hate what’s happening to the planet and I live in HOPE we can all collectively make a change. I voice my opinions and I’m a big fan of lobbying manufacturers/companies/Parliament.

Why is it important to you to reduce plastic waste?

Quite simply because we have to. It’s verging on too late to break the crisis we are in. I view plastic, single-use plastic, and waste very differently to a few years ago so it’s become a change of habit – something we need populations to tackle and break their addiction to single-use especially plastic.

Seven little tricks to achieve parenting with less waste. 

#1 Communicate your mission and don’t rush!

Explain to your family and close friends how you are going to live. It does help as it stops them feeling in limbo and unsure of whether or not to take you a pre-packaged dessert to a family lunch for example.   You have to move towards living simply step by step and not take a running jump!

Living simply does mean having less ‘stuff’ so make a move towards a cathartic clean out. But don’t, as I would have done years ago, take it all to the tip. I now make sure it’s reused/recycled/upcycled where possible.

#2 Take an audit.

Look at what you throw away.  Throwaway has to go somewhere, a fact that so many households don’t correlate.  Take it one room at a time and see where the most plastic is.  You need to get out of the mind set that it can be recycled as recycling simply is adding to the problem.  There are so many alternatives to buy now, and because you live more simply you need a hell of a lot less!

clare talks rubbish

#3 Challenge Supermarkets

Don’t be afraid to challenge supermarkets and take your own containers!  Just tell the person serving you meat/cheese/fish that you don’t own a landfill bin!

#4 Make your own cleaning products.

When I researched and found out how many chemicals and plastics were in the antibacterial cleaning products I was buying I soon stopped.  I love the fact I now don’t run out because I know how essential oils can be used for a natural antibacterial cleaner or bicarb of soda can shine sinks just as well as brand cleaning products.  Nature was here first and really does have all the answers.

zero waste maman

#5 Say No!

As a parent I’m afraid this is a harsh one but, you can say ‘No’.  It’s hard but it works as my children don’t ask for things when we are out as they used to.  The summer is a tricky one because of ice-cream, who doesn’t like an ice-cream on a sunny day!  Well they know the plastic wrapped ones are a ‘no-no’, so I only let them have cones which means there’s definitely no waste!

#6 Experiences not Stuff

My children view charity shops as shops, probably because they are young, but there is no wanting. They know what we have at home is enough, leaving us with time and money to go walking, have a lovely experience together as a family.

clare talks rubbish

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


#7 Cook From Scratch

It’s hard work with two young children I know!  From a cooking perspective I try to cook everything from scratch, from bread, breadsticks, dips, pizza, cake, smoothies and it all takes time.  Especially as I am not a brilliant baker on top of now trying to balance motherhood, working on Zero Waste Maman editorial and a little bit of me-time. 

My go-to when I feel like it’s too much isn’t online, although the community of zero wasters is growing and so kind and helpful, no, it’s to reach for my much loved book ‘Zero Waste Home’ by Bea Johnson.  Reading her guide to simplifying my life is straightforward, easy and totally manageable on any budget.

It’s not all swapping to a bamboo toothbrush! zero waste and plastic free is a change of attitude and thought pattern.  You CAN DO IT!

zero waste maman


We would love to hear your tips!  comment below…