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Recycling for kids: How to teach them the importance of going green

Recycling for kids

You want your kids to grow up and live in a healthy world as a parent. That means teaching them to be eco-conscious at an early age. One of the easiest ways to do this is to emphasize the importance of recycling at home to benefit the planet. But how do you approach the topic of recycling for kids in ways they understand and find fun? Find tips below.

Kids can make an impact

When you throw something in the trash, it often gets stuck in a landfill. However, when you or your kids put items in a recycling bin, they get sent to a materials recovery facility. From there, the former garbage is sold and reused. This reduces fossil fuels and conserves natural resources such as water and trees.

If you make recycling a fun activity for your kids in grade school, they will be more likely to continue this and other environmentally friendly habits when they get older. Here are some tips for teaching your children about recycling.

Ways to communicate the importance of recycling for kids:

1. Use pop culture

Plenty of print and visual media products for kids talk about nature and recycling. If you read a story to your children at bedtime, try The Lorax or The Little Green Books series.

The PBSKids website also has numerous kids’ programs that discuss the importance of recycling. The videos star some of their favorite characters, such as Curious George and Daniel the Tiger.

2. Put recycling lessons into action for kids at home

Once your kids understand the basics of recycling, have them contribute to the process at home. Start by sorting through the trash one item at a time. Do not forget to wear gloves and a mask, as this can get dirty and stinky.

Sort the recyclable items into one pile and the non-recyclables into another. This way, your kids can see how much the family wastes daily. They might have some ideas for cutting down on garbage.

If that sounds too messy, at least bring your kids to each room in the house and ask them what can be recycled. Things such as old phone books, receipts, and paper bags can go into the recycling bin.

You can even recycle non-obvious items such as plastic parts in broken toys. To make this even more fun, you can turn it into a scavenger hunt.

Similar to most leadership development scenarios, leading by example can be one of the most simple principles to apply. Still, it can ultimately be one of the most impactful to ensure people learn what you’re trying to teach.

For instance, when you are out and about with your kids and see recyclable refuse on the ground, you can pick it up and take it to a recycling bin nearby. If the nearest one is at your house several blocks away, you can hold on to it till you get home.

I don’t think any parent is excited to walk home with someone else’s trash. But taking time to hold to your principles regarding recycling can be one of the more powerful ways your kids can take to heart what you’ve been teaching them.

3. Visit local facilities and landfills

Not all recyclables go into the regular bins. You need to take computers, appliances, and batteries to special facilities.

Take your child to this location, and turn the trip into an adventure by stopping at a park afterward. Try to look into green packaging too when shopping with them.

You and your kids may also want to visit your local landfill. This outing will show them what happens to waste that they do not recycle.

4. Teach composting and upcycling

If you want your kids to understand eco-friendly practices, help them know about composting and upcycling. In 2018, food was the most common material in combustion facilities and landfills in America.

Teach your kids to recycle food waste by tossing banana peels, eggshells, and other food scraps into a compost pile in your backyard. Pine cones and leaves can go into the pile, as well.

Over time, the compost will break down into a soil-like material. You can then use this as fertilizer for your garden.

Upcycling is taking an old, unwanted item and turning it into something new. For instance, you can put seeds and dirt inside used vegetable cans to make them into flower planters.

You can even melt down broken crayons and create tie-dye molds. These activities will help your kids realize that reusing and recycling their belongings can be fun while also being kind to the planet.

Conclusion on recycling for kids

With the effects of climate change ravaging the planet, being eco-conscious is more critical than ever. Kids need to learn environmentally friendly behaviors now so they can preserve the earth as they get older.

The above tips should get your children excited about recycling. They may even pass on the virtues of this practice to their children in the future.

9 thoughts on “Recycling for kids: How to teach them the importance of going green”

  1. Great post, Christy!
    It brings to mind a lesson I learned when I was 14.
    Times were different. NO internet. I had spent an afternoon at the main library in Winnipeg.
    I quite loved it there! No parents, just me, books and info for my project.
    It was a Sunday.
    There was a chocolate bar machine (and a drink machine)
    Before I left I bought a chocolate bar, from the machine.
    Outside the library, I unwrapped it, and ate it. When I was done, I tossed the wrapper into the street. There was a trash bin right beside me.
    A man & woman came up to me and said they were undercover police working downtown.
    They picked up the wrapper, and asked me why I had to throw the wrapper into the street, littering our city, when there was a bin at my feet?

    It is a question that has remained with me to today.
    I took the wrapper, threw it in the bin, and thanked them….in a rueful teenage way.

    This was the beginning of my awareness about garbage on our planet. xx

    1. Agree! I have never been a litterbug since. It set off a ripple effect of being a vegetarian, reusing & repurposing. Recycling came later, as there was no recycling reality at the time.

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