Zero Waste Potty Training

zero waste potty training

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Zero Waste Potty Training | Aside from sleep training my son, potty training takes the cake for the hardest parenting moment. Seriously, I read every online blog, article, and message board out there for desperate advice.

I had no idea just how challenging it was going to be to convince my 3-year old that it was time to stop urinating and pooping in his pants. You know, in my mind this should be something that every human being is hardwired to accomplish. Right?!?!?!

Well, definitely not in my son’s case.

Oliver is my first and probably only child so yea, I had zero experience and I probably did everything wrong.

And mix that with him being incredibly stubborn – I have no idea where he gets it from. HA!

I probably waited too long to start, I probably didn’t encourage him the right ways, I probably didn’t give him enough attention – yadda yadda yadda. But come on, it’s tough as a working mom who’s just trying to survive.

I am definitely NOT an expert in this or anything for that matter so all I can do is share with you what finally worked and how I managed to accomplish it all sans the waste.

Zero Waste Potty Training


I’m not sure why I never thought about a strategic plan to attack potty training. Frankly, I just got to a point where I was tired of changing diapers. Especially since my kid poops like an adult.

Related: My Minimalist Diaper Bag

Let’s just say that a 3-year old’s #2s are not the most pleasant and frankly, a little ridiculous. I can understand that it may not be as bad with disposables but I’m using cloth, here. I have to take ownership of that turd.

I finally made a plan.

Potty Training Plan

I first started out by putting him on a schedule. Every 30 minutes – took him to the bathroom. If that didn’t work, I reduced it by 5-minute increments.

The first day went well. There was only 1 or so accident.

I tried the timed potty thing for months until the frustration got the better of both Oliver and myself. It just wasn’t working.

He didn’t care about treats at that point either. I tried bribes but apparently pooping in ones’ pants outweighed a huge bowl of ice cream, a puppy, and the keys to my car.

I gave up.

I eventually decided to have a potty training boot camp combined with cold, hard determination to never  change a diaper again despite the mistakes going forward.

3 whole days, no other distractions, no work, no leaving the house. Just potty training. A potty training bootcamp.

I waited until an upcoming 3 day weekend and immediately blocked off my calendar, set alerts, and got myself mentally prepared. That was the key to success, because it really wasn’t about Ollie being ready, it was about ME being ready.

I took his cloth diapers away and put him right into underwear – there are even extra padded potty training underwear that are available and can still be used way beyond potty training. They are just comfier under-britches. Skip those worthless training diapers. Waste of money in my opinion and a whole lot of excess, avoidable waste.

toddler girls potty training

Going into that 3 day bootcamp, we did nothing but potty training from sun up to sun down. It was exhausting. But it was HUGELY affective. He was getting it and we weren’t going back.

Since Oliver goes to daycare throughout the week, that always throws a curveball for consistency and opens up a chance for regression. Beforehand, I communicated with Oliver’s teachers and explained to them what my method was going to be. They agreed to take that same method into their hands while they watched Ollie to continue his progress. That was also another way we were successful.

Zero Waste Potty Training Gear

Potty training kids is not anything new. That means there are tons of resources sitting in peoples basements and on secondhand marketplaces. There’s absolutely NO need to buy new. Get prepared in advance instead of scrambling last minute to get the essentials you need.

Training Underwear

There are a lot of great reusable options available that can be word up until he can no longer fit into them. They seem to be better made than regular, little boy underwear. Also, again, enlist the help of other parents who may have some sitting in a box from when they were in the potty training phase.

Potty Chair or Potty Seat

There are potty chairs and potty seats galore in thrift stores and secondhand shops. 

I actually ended up using a wooden, homemade potty chair that was given to my brother when he was a boy.

Bed Protection

I ended up using a plastic, shade tarp that came with a tent I own. I put the tarp directly on the mattress then with the other blankets on top. It worked!

Wool blankets also offer great mattress protection.


Potty Training Rewards

I of course offered rewards to my little guy for trying and doing a great job. Here are some ideas:

Potty training is definitely not easy for everyone but managing the waste is a little easier. Determination and consistency wins this race.

What methods have you tried that were successful? What genius ideas do you have for reducing waste?

For more posts for zero waste kids/babies, check out:

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