Looking to up your eco game? Bookmark these top tips to make a difference (and get the kids involved, too!).
Sustainability is a buzzword we hear all the time. ‘Eco-friendly’ and ‘going green’ are at the forefront of our minds whenever we head to the shops or online – and with good reason. We’ve even introduced our inaugural Honeycombers Sustainability Awards to give a shout-out to some of the wonderful businesses championing sustainability in Singapore. But sometimes, family life is hectic, and making the most eco-friendly choices isn’t so easy, or we might not know where to really begin.
The good news is, starting small can make a real difference. We had a chat with some of our brilliant (and hugely driven) Launchpad entrepreneurs for some sure-fire practical tips because there’s nothing like some real-life inspo to help us take action!
1. Go fresh and natural whenever you can, and be mindful of conserving our resources
“Making eco-friendly choices as a parent is important to me, for the health of my family and the environment. I incorporate these simple eco-friendly parenting hacks into my daily life. First, food. I make as many of my children’s meals as I can using fresh ingredients instead of buying pre-packaged food. I believe this is healthier for them, with the added bonus of reducing packaging waste!
Speaking of packaging, I use reusable glass or stainless steel containers for food storage instead of plastic ones. Not only are they more durable (and can be reused for a long time!), but they also reduce waste and help conserve resources. Reusable items don’t just have to be for storage – we never forget our water bottles and shopping bags when we head to the grocery store. I also make it a point to buy second-hand clothes and toys for my children from thrift stores, garage sales, and online marketplaces such as Carousell. This not only helps save money but also helps reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
Another important area I focus on is cleaning products – I use a variety of natural cleaning products instead of chemical ones. We don’t know what harm the chemicals in cleaning products could be inflicting on our health, so I use white vinegar and baking soda for general cleaning. These are just as effective at removing stains and odours. I also use essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, and tea tree oil to add a pleasant scent and boost the cleaning power of my homemade cleaners. I believe by making small changes in our daily lives, we can work towards a more sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.”
Michelle Chan, Founder & Certified Natural Skincare Formulator, MISEICO
2. A sharing economy: Use your imagination to create magic with your kids and lessen the focus on material possessions.
“As a parent, I instil values around reducing consumption and reusing what we have in day-to-day living by reminding my children to follow simple actions of turning-off lights and fans when not in use, not to waste food (there is a rule of “clean plates after a meal” in our house), making them aware of items that can/cannot be recycled.
In addition, instead of buying new toys/books, we create games from what we have at home. For example, instead of buying a tent, we build a tent using the dining table and old bedsheets! We create art using dry leaves picked from the playground and decorate using the paper and colouring pens that we have at home.
We also incorporate aspects of a ‘sharing economy’ into our lives by borrowing books from the library instead of buying new books and using MRT and public buses for transportation (most of the time). ‘Material possession does not equate to success in life’ is the way of thinking that we want to instil in our children. This paradigm shift is required if we want to make a dent in the sustainability challenges facing us. We have the responsibility to prepare our younger generation for the bigger sustainability challenges that they are going to face.”
Sangeeta, Founder, The Eco-Statement
3. Invest in reusable bags and clothing made from high-quality, sustainable materials – they last longer and lessens landfill!
“The easiest eco-friendly swap I have found making as a parent are reusable bags. Whether it’s snack bags like Stashers or larger bags like our Just Peachy wet/dry bag, which are perfect for the beach or more organised packing for travel, there are so many opportunities to make the swap from single-use plastic bags, whether your child is a newborn or all grown up.
In terms of habit changes, I have become more conscious of choosing quality and more sustainable materials for my kids’ wardrobe because good quality lasts, and it feels good to wear well-made pieces from inside out. They also keep well to be passed down or sold pre-loved rather than destined for landfills. Ultimately, choosing better for your little ones often means being kinder to the planet too.”
Victoria Chuard, Founder, Just Peachy Basics
4. Get outdoors and appreciate what we’re trying to save!
“We all know how important it is to lead a more sustainable life. But with a busy lifestyle, even more so as a family with children involved, it can be difficult to know where to start and how to teach our kids about sustainability. How can you incorporate these mindful practices into your daily lives?
A popular slogan to guide you in your decisions is the 3 R’s – Reduce, reuse, recycle. Think about reducing waste by making eco-friendly choices with less packaging, organic materials, and fabrics (check MiliMilu!). Reuse items instead of getting new ones or using disposable ones. Recycle your trash and things that can’t be used anymore. It’s fun for kids to check and understand which bins the plastic, paper, and bottles go in!
I suggest taking your kids in nature and outdoors as much as possible. Educate them about nature and let them explore and have fun outside, as it will bring a greater appreciation about it and a desire to understand how to take care of and protect it. Other simple things are getting the kids involved in sorting their clothes and toys out and understanding that they will be passed down to baby relatives or friends, which is extending the life cycles of the products!
Beach clean-ups are another fantastic way to get the kids involved. You can join one of the bigger events, or before having fun at the beach, have a clean-up! It doesn’t have to be a whole day thing. As long as your child is happy doing it and understands the impact of plastic and pollution on oceans, it will help them in future to cut down on using plastic products.
Bring nature into your home with a mini garden. It can be just a few plants at home for the child to take care of! Know that even a small step towards a more sustainable life as a family is a step in the right direction.”
Linda Morrison, Founder and Creative Director of MiliMilu
5. Simple changes can make a lasting difference in a move towards a sustainable lifestyle
“As a parent, my journey towards eco-friendly living started with the realisation of the amount of plastic waste around me. I took my first step towards sustainability by using reusable diapers, and gradually, my family moved towards using muslin cloths instead of wipes. These simple changes made me realise the importance of a sustainable lifestyle for future generations.
Here are some of my personal eco-friendly parenting hacks:
- Use public transport: Taking public transport can be a fun and eco-friendly way for kids to learn about the environment and reduce our carbon footprint.
- Go for beach cleans during vacations: Going for beach cleans during vacations is a great way to teach kids about waste and how to take care of the environment.
- Bring water bottles, tiffins, and cloth napkins when going out: Carrying these items with us when we go out helps reduce our reliance on single-use plastics and paper products.
- Reuse boxes from online orders: We collect all the boxes from our online orders and colour them with our kids. They then use them for organizing their toys.
- Buy preloved toys and clothes: We always encourage our kids to donate or sell their toys and clothes before getting new ones. Buying preloved items helps reduce our consumption and the amount of waste we generate.
As parents, we have the responsibility to raise our children to be conscious and responsible global citizens. By incorporating these simple eco-friendly hacks into our daily lives, we can create a better future for our children and the planet.”
Ankita Jain, Founder/Owner, Purple & Pure
6. Kids can be voracious consumers – we follow the Montessori philosophy of minimalism, and you can too!
“When I think about eco-friendly parenting hacks, I immediately think about: diapers, clothes, and the number of toys. We use cloth diapers for our firstborn from newborn stage. I really love the designs and the sustainability aspect of it. Before our first was born, we did extensive research (oh, when we still had so much time on our hands!) on brands and fabrics. As an ex-fashion designer, I have high values for natural fabrics, even though the shell fabric will never be natural. It’s a big investment initially, but it really pays off long-term. We also choose to go for diapers that grow with their age, just so we’re not limited to a certain size and need to keep buying more. Our toddler is still wearing the ones he wore as a newborn!
Which brings me to clothes. Children grow FAST, and they don’t need many clothes, especially not before they start going to the playground. During the first few months, our newborn was mostly in his diapers (because cloth diapers are SO cute). And if you need new clothes, get them second-hand. Kids grow fast, so often they’re hardly worn. Use what’s already existing in the world!
Lastly – toys. We are very much fans of the Montessori philosophy, which is basically minimalism for kids. Do not overwhelm, only a number of toys, keeping an eye on what they play with most – and rotate. Nothing battery operated with flickering lights or crazy-making sounds. And again, there are amazing resources for secondhand items. You can make some great deals – it’s saving both your wallet and the environment!”
Biek Speijk, Wardrobe Curator & Artist, biekaleidoscope
7. Fill your kid’s birthday loot bags with party favours that have a nature-based twist!
“As a preschool teacher with a Reggio Emilia approach background, we use teaching resources that are inspired by nature – wood, paper, metal, stone or recycled materials. We only have a bucket of plastic toys for water or sensory play at home. When our kiddo’s birthday came around, we knew that we wanted to make conscious choices in sourcing items for the loot bags while staying within budget. We were able to do so using a cardboard box to house a book, a wooden spinning top, a felt fabric hero mask, a silicone wristband, and some organic/non-organic treats for the kids.
We can’t wait for the next celebration to think about what eco-friendly children’s goods we can give away! I think that consistency and constant exposure to eco-friendly materials will help children be more aware and question environment-related everyday challenges. Download our playbook with more ideas!”
Karen Villard, Founder, Cubo Toys
8. Mindfulness is key to environmental impact
“As a mother of two boys, aged 6 and 9, I am always looking for ways to teach them to be environmentally responsible. With small changes in our daily routine, we can make a big difference in the world we live in. Here are my top 4 eco-friendly parenting hacks:
- Set a 5-minute timer for showers and ask them to switch off lights when leaving a room to save water and energy.
- Use reusable materials such as cereal boxes and egg cartons for craft projects. Encourage kids to save paper by using both sides of the paper for their drawings.
- Participate in beach cleaning activities to raise awareness about the importance of reducing plastic waste.
- Teach your kids about the importance of consuming seasonal and locally grown produce, such as avoiding strawberries and raspberries in Singapore.”
Séverine Malé, Founder, KiddoTrip
9. As parents, we need to lead by example!
“Leading by example is the best way to raise sustainable kids. When you walk the talk, they will join your path! So, eat (more) vegan, drive green, recycle, or help at beach cleanups. They will copy whatever they see you are doing. And give them a sense of empowerment. That they know from early ages that they can make a difference.”
10. Jazz up old newspaper and give it new life as gift wrap!
“Ever since I celebrated my elder one’s first birthday (10 years, to be precise), I’ve never bought wrapping paper. When I was planning her first party, I was thinking of different ways to make it zero-waste, and using newspaper as a gift wrap seemed like a fun option. I wrapped the gift in a newspaper, decorated it with some homemade trimmings, and drew an image from the theme “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” using crayons.
From then on, whenever we attended a birthday party, we wrapped our gifts in newspapers and added a splash of colour by sticking on kids’ paintings and drawings. As the kids grew older, they started enjoying the process and even helped decide which artwork to use for each friend’s gift. It was heartening to see many of our friends also began to follow, wrapping their own gifts in newspapers.
In addition to using newspaper as gift wrap, we also started crafting newspaper goody bags. The kids love adding their own personal thank you notes. It’s been a rewarding way to reduce our waste and build the birthday excitement at home!”
Vrinda Jain, Founder, Altereco
11. Pay it forward with kindness and breathe new life into unwanted items
“As a parent, it’s always a challenge to balance our children’s desire for new toys and books with our commitment to sustainability. However, I have found a simple eco-friendly parenting hack that has worked wonders for me and my family in Singapore.
Living in a relatively small apartment, we have limited space to store things, which can be a blessing in disguise. Many people are looking to get rid of things in good condition, which provides me with an opportunity to give a second life to these items. Whenever my children outgrow their books or toys, I immediately donate them to other families who would appreciate them.
Thanks to WhatsApp groups and Facebook, it’s easy to find families who are in need of gently used items. This not only helps reduce waste, but it also promotes a culture of sharing and giving within the community.
This eco-friendly parenting hack has also taught my children the value of reusing and recycling. My youngest child recently said, “I don’t want this toy anymore, let’s give it to another child who would enjoy it.” This small act of kindness not only benefits the environment but also teaches our children about empathy and generosity.”
Dana Wolf, Feng Shui Expert and certified KonMari consultant, Founder of Anjia Living
12. A sponge is not just a sponge!
“Let’s talk about kitchen sponges. While they’re a household staple, did you know that regular coloured sponges are made from petroleum-based ingredients that can leach microplastics into our waterways, harming our planet and wildlife? But fear not! There are eco-friendly alternatives that are just as effective. Cellulose sponges are a great alternative. Made from wood pulp, which has been processed into cellulose, topped with a natural luffah scrubber and sewn together with cotton twine with no nasty glue, eco sponges are a quick and easy swap out.
A hundred percent biodegradable and compostable, they contain no harmful ingredients. So, whilst Eco Sponges may not last any longer than your regular coloured sponge, keep in mind that by choosing eco-friendly alternatives, you can make a big difference in reducing plastic waste and helping to preserve our planet’s natural beauty. So let’s give our planet a helping hand and opt for eco-sponges instead!
Handy Tip: Cut the corner off a sponge that has done its time in the kitchen. This is a visual reminder of it being downgraded to grubbier tasks such as outdoor and heavier-duty cleaning. This way, you can make the most out of your sponge before disposing of it properly.”
Caroline Warren, Owner, NaturalSpot
Pssst.. Don’t forget to vote in our first-ever Sustainability Awards for your chance to win a villa stay!