Teaching Kids To Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Recycling is NOT easy! Like anything it takes lots of practice to get good. The first step in teaching your children about recycling is explaining to them WHY we should recycle. Teach your children that the earth is their home, and that it therefore deserves their care and respect. Also, teach your child that there is a strong interconnectedness and interdependence between humans and the environment and that their daily actions can affect the earth in either a positive or negative way. Once students understand this basic concept they will be able to see the importance in recycling.
Starting with the basics is a great way to teach your child fun recycling projects. It is important to identify the three R’s for your child so that they can distinguish three key ways to reduce their ecological footprint, that is, their impact on the environment:
The Three “R’s”
- Reduce: this means cutting back on the amount of waste used in everyday life. For example, reduce waste by teaching kids to use canvas bags at the grocery store instead of plastic bags.
- Reuse: reuse an existing item in your household in order to minimize waste. For example, reuse gift bags to cut down on paper waste or decorate cans or jars with stickers or glitter to create a unique pencil holder.
- Recycle: recycling means when an object can be shredded, melted, or processed in order to create new raw materials; for instance, an aluminum can is used to create more cans while paper and cardboard can be recycled in order to generate more paper products
Four FUN Recycling Activities for Kids
- A fun starter recycle project for kids is separating paper and cardboard waste at home from plastics and metals. These should be carefully divided and placed into appropriately labeled bins. For example, green plastics should be placed in one bin and white plastics in another; glass products should also be separated according to color. You can also use paper to make fun recycled paper crafts. As with any home project adult supervision is recommended.
- Organizing a nature walk through the neighborhood or through a local park is another great way to get kids involved in recycling. Parents can accompany children and guide them in identifying and picking up recyclable litter to clean up; this event can be scheduled to celebrate Earth Day, or any time throughout the year, as the weather permits.
- In addition, implementing a community recycling program is a great way to get kids involved in learning about the environment. These programs are also in place at several schools; if your children’s school does not have such a program, become involved in establishing one by attending a parent’s night or by talking to your child’s teacher or principal. Kids can participate in these programs with their schoolmates and learn about the importance of community in creating a healthy environment.
- Composting is another fun recycle project for kids, which helps to reduce outdoor household waste. Kids can help to compost yard waste and vegetable scraps. When items are sufficiently composted, they can get their hands dirty by helping to distribute composted materials in your garden, as compost makes excellent fertilizer.
- Who should recycle?
- What does it mean to recycle something and what types of things can be recycled?
- Where do things go when they are recycled?
- When should you recycle?
- Why is recycling so important for our environment and energy conservation?
- How can I start recycling TODAY?