Why Teaching Our Kids About Reducing and Reusing Matters More Than Ever

By Dr. Manasa Mantravadi



Time to Read: 9 min

Teaching our children the value of reducing and reusing has never been more essential. These lessons are the foundation of sustainable living and an important way to guide the next generation in nurturing a healthier planet. With Earth Day on the horizon, it's a time for us to reflect on our impact and the importance of passing on eco-friendly habits.

Instilling these sustainable living habits in our kids goes beyond just having a conversation. We also need to embed a deep respect for the environment and encourage mindful living. By adopting these habits ourselves, we set an example, fostering a culture where sustainability is a part of daily life.

The journey towards a more sustainable future is a collective effort, enriched by shared insights and experiences. As we navigate this path, let's keep in mind the lasting impact our actions today will have on the world tomorrow, ensuring a greener future for all.

About Ahimsa

Founded by a pediatrician and mom of three

Stainless steel is the only kid-friendly material recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 

We are guided by a Scientific Advisory Council comprised of environmental and medical experts, guiding us in creating the safest products, following the latest science and promoting policy to protect human health and our planet

Want to know more? Check out our story and our products

The Pillars of Sustainable Living: Reducing and Reusing

Two fundamental principles—reducing and reusing—are at the heart of sustainable living. These aren’t just concepts for managing waste but the cornerstones of a lifestyle that respects and conserves our natural resources.

When we talk about reducing, we mean cutting down on what we consume and the waste we generate. It’s about making thoughtful choices, like selecting products with minimal packaging, opting for items that last longer, or finding more sustainable options in our shopping habits. This approach helps diminish the demand for raw materials and lowers the volume of waste polluting our landfills and oceans.

Reusing takes the idea of waste reduction a step further. This practice involves finding new life for items we might otherwise discard. From repurposing glass jars as storage containers to donating clothes we no longer wear, reusing is a creative and effective way to extend the life cycle of the products we own. This practice saves resources and sparks innovation and creativity in finding sustainable solutions.

Teaching our children these principles instills a sense of responsibility and awareness about the impact of their choices. By embracing the concepts of reducing and reusing as a sustainable living habit, we guide our children toward becoming thoughtful stewards of the planet, ready to make positive changes for the future.

Cultivating Sustainable Living Habits in Young Minds

Instilling sustainable living habits in our children isn’t just about teaching them how to care for the environment. It's also a way to shape a future where respect for our planet is ingrained in their every action. By starting these lessons early, we can make certain that the next generation carries forward the torch of sustainability, lighting the way for years to come.

Sustainable living habits like reduce and reuse encompass everything from conserving water and energy to choosing products that are kind to the earth. They are general principles that are concerned more about making conscious decisions that consider the long-term health of our planet. For instance, encouraging our kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room or to prefer walking and biking over car rides teaches them the value of energy conservation from a young age.

Involving children in activities centered around the ideas of reduce and reuse, like garden composting, can spark their interest in how ecosystems work and their role in protecting these systems. Activities like these not only educate them about the cycle of life but also show them the tangible impact of their contributions.

As parents and educators, our role is to provide our children with the tools and knowledge to live sustainably. Through storytelling, hands-on projects, and leading by example, we can demonstrate sustainable living habits and inspire them to adopt these values as their own. This foundation prepares them to be mindful citizens of the world, ready to embrace and advocate for sustainable living.

Fun and Practical Ways to Embrace Reduce and Reuse

While teaching children about the importance and principles of reducing and reusing, putting those ideas into practice is a better way to help them understand the philosophy and for us to demonstrate the values. By bringing these concepts into everyday family life, we offer meaningful lessons that extend beyond the classroom. 

Here's how you can put these ideas into action, enriching your family’s routine with valuable sustainability practices:

Host Family and Friends Clothing Swaps

Organize clothing swaps among your child's school community, your relatives, or your circle of friends. This fun event breathes new life into outgrown clothes, books, and toys and can inspire a sense of community and sharing in your kids. It's a tangible lesson in extending the lifecycle of items, encouraging children to see the value in items beyond their immediate use.

Introduce Home Composting

Start a composting project to bring the cycle of nature into your kitchen. A small counter compost bin can be a fascinating and great introduction to composting, showing kids how food waste transforms into rich soil for the garden. This hands-on experience teaches them about decomposition and the natural cycle, highlighting how we can contribute positively to the Earth's ecosystem.

Pack Reusable Cutlery for On-The-Go Mealtimes

Embrace sustainability on the go by packing Ahimsa's reusable cutlery, plates, and containers for after-school activities and family outings. This simple but effective swap from disposable to reusable items demonstrates the ease and convenience of living sustainably while showcasing beautifully designed, child-friendly utensils. Just use, rinse, and store away for the next use. And a tip for those who might be forgetful, pack your reusable dishes in a tote bag or cooler to store in your car’s trunk. 

Create a Back-to-School Scavenger Hunt

Instead of buying new school supplies each year, turn the back-to-school rush into a fun scavenger hunt for gently used supplies like pencils, erasers, and notebooks around your home. Encourage your children to personalize these supplies with stickers or drawings, making the old feel new and exciting. This promotes resourcefulness and creativity, proving that joy can be found in reusing and repurposing.

Launch a Leftover Makeover Night

Set aside one night a week for a leftover makeover, where the family gets creative with the week's remaining meals. Whether crafting an entirely new dish or enjoying a favorite meal again, this practice teaches children the importance of food conservation in a fun and engaging way. It's a chance to be inventive in the kitchen while highlighting the significance of minimizing food waste.

By adopting these practices, you're immersing your children in a lifestyle that values resourcefulness, creativity, and environmental stewardship. These activities offer practical, enjoyable ways to bring the concepts of reduce and reuse to life, laying the foundation for a lifetime of mindful and sustainable living.

The Collective Impact of Reduce and Reuse

Teaching our children sustainable living habits is an important step toward a brighter, healthier future. However, the journey doesn't stop with personal actions. The true power of sustainability is unleashed when these practices are adopted collectively, transforming communities and, ultimately, the world.

The collective effect of widespread reduce and reuse efforts can be astonishing. Communities coming together to minimize waste and conserve resources lead to substantial environmental benefits, including cleaner air and water, preserving natural habitats, and reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions. This united approach to reducing and reusing enhances our surroundings and strengthens community bonds.

By including children as part of a broader movement, they can learn valuable lessons in teamwork and the power of collective action toward common goals. This sense of community and shared purpose encourages them to participate in civic life and advocate for environmental causes.

Educational institutions and community groups play an important role in facilitating this journey. Through initiatives like community clean-up events, educational workshops on reducing consumption or even adopting more sustainable products in cafeterias and classrooms, these organizations can foster a culture of sustainability. Such community-led activities offer hands-on experiences and illustrate the tangible changes that can be achieved through united efforts.

By emphasizing the importance of reduce and reuse to our children and showcasing the power of community action, we equip them for a future where environmental stewardship is a shared responsibility. This collective commitment to sustainability ensures a healthier planet for generations to come, highlighting that every small action, when multiplied across communities, can lead to significant environmental progress.

Shaping Tomorrow's Stewards

Imparting the habits of reduce and reuse in our children lays the foundation for a sustainable future. These simple yet powerful actions teach them the importance of conservation and respect for the environment. Teaching these sustainable living habits is about more than just minimizing waste. It's also about nurturing a mindset of responsibility and care for the planet that will carry into their adulthood. 

Together, these daily practices pave the way for a cultural shift towards sustainability. Let's empower the next generation to build a greener, more mindful world, where sustainable living is not just practiced but deeply valued.

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

Mealtime Essentials

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use stainless steel instead of plastic? Is stainless steel better for health?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report in July 2018 suggesting ways that families can limit exposure to certain chemicals at mealtime, including “the use of alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.” The report explained that “…some additives are put directly in foods, while “indirect” additives may include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard”. Further, “Children are more sensitive to chemical exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to body weight, than adults do, and are still growing and developing.” While stainless steel items meet the recommendation to avoid plastic products in children, Ahimsa® products have the obvious advantage of not breaking like glass.

Is stainless steel better for the environment than plastic?

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel can be recycled over and over and over again without losing its integrity and requires less energy to recycle than to make anew. Most plastic unfortunately ends up in landfills and it is estimated to take 700 years to decompose. Our special coloring process that allows Ahimsa® products to be fully metal is environmentally friendly, so it does not produce toxic run-off into the ecosystem.

Will Ahimsa products break or peel?

No. Our steel is durable, so it won’t break or shatter with everyday use, like glass. And it won’t peel, like other colored stainless steel products you’ve seen. We use a special process that allows the colors to naturally occur in the metal.

Which Ahimsa products are best for my little one(s)?

Our products are meant to last, you can use Ahimsa at ages 1, 8 and 18! We thoughtfully design our products to be safe for little ones and our planet while reducing consumption. Once your child outgrows the Starting Solids Set  and can use regular cups and utensils, the training cup is the perfect size rinse cup in the bathroom, the infant spoon doubles as a tea stirrer and the bowl is great for snacks or as an additional compartment to our modular divided plate. Our plates are great for any age as they encourage choosing a variety of healthy foods at each meal and help visualize portion sizes easily. It’s the lasting beauty of stainless steel - grows with your child and reduces waste.

Leave a comment