When is wasting stuff a good thing?

Trying to go zero waste is a great challenge to take on. But in real life creating absolutely zero waste is not achievable, and not always desirable.

Sustainable gift wrap course

In some circumstances waste can be a good thing.

5 examples of when waste is good

1.Let your kids waste food.

It might seem like a waste every time you offer them a carrot and they throw it across the room. Kids need to be offered new foods a number of times before they get to know it. It might not work with every food type, 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.

2. 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.

3. Let your children get creative!

Most of your kids artwork might end up straight in the recycling or even in the bin. However if your children want to make up recipes, design models or teach themselves how to knit they learn more from their mistakes than closely guided successes.

4. 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. For example it took me several attempts before I mastered the art of making yoghurt. Now that I know how I make it all the time. Saving hundreds of yoghurt pots from the bin.

5. 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. 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’s the only way to learn, discover new things and communicate good ideas. There are always ways to limit the waste so don’t let worries about waste hold you back!


  1. Good point! I'm not a parent, so I guess I am always "in control" of what I waste and how to prevent this, but it is interesting to read this, as I hope to one day be a parent and then I will definitely have to deal with giving up a lot of that control and just let the kids be kids!

  2. Zoe

    When you do first become a parent go easy on yourself – you will be so tired that sometimes the easy packaged options are worth it in exchange for your sanity! Also I'm starting to come round to the idea that zero waste isn't my first priority when it comes to food packaging – I would rather buy organic, free range, local, fair trade food than unpackaged food (although it isn't always affordable or available and those are also factors to take into account!)

Comments are closed.