As our world becomes more environmentally conscious, it’s more important than ever to teach our children the importance of recycling. Learning how to reduce, reuse, and recycle at a young age builds good habits that will stay with them in adulthood. Not only can you teach your children how you can recycle as a family, but you can do fun activities to help them see the importance of taking care of our earth.
There are many ways you can teach your kids about the importance of recycling, but here are a few ideas to get you started.
Separate the trash in your house together. Even if you have been using a recycling bin for a while, you can collect trash around your house with your kids and take the time to separate the items with them into the waste or the recycling bin. Teach them how to recognize what can be recycled and what cannot, and they can start doing it independently.
Watch educational videos about recycling. There are plenty of videos out there educating both children and adults on how recycling works. It also helps people understand how waste affects our environment and what we can do to change it. Here are a few YouTube videos that you and your kids can watch together and discuss:
Repurpose used items in your household. You can turn a plastic water bottle into a vase. Use old or mismatched board game pieces into jewelry. Cut apart clean plastic shampoo bottles to create a pencil holder. Turn old jeans into a pair of frayed shorts. Make old shoes into a planter. There are tons of ways to repurpose plastic or used items, and here are some ideas to get you started!
Design waste-free lunches together for school. Packing waste-free lunches means storing food in reusable containers instead of disposable plastic bags or using plastic utensils. You can find reusable plastic bags and utensils in convenient boxes that can be transported easily and washed when your child returns home. Get your kids involved in brainstorming ways to reduce waste each day with every meal.
Brainstorm alternative homes for used things. If you can’t reuse certain items or just want to get rid of things like stuffed animals, old paint, or outgrown furniture, discuss with your kids how to reuse or upcycle them. For example, you can donate old toys and outgrown items to charities that will take them where your items can find a new home. Brainstorming with your kids will get them in the habit of upcycling their old items instead of simply throwing them away.
Visit a recycling plant. Take a field trip to a recycling plant to see how glass and plastic are reused or turned into something new. It can be a fun and educational family activity, and make sure to take your old plastic and glass items to recycle too!
Volunteer to pick up litter. Though picking up trash isn’t fully related to recycling, you can show your kids the importance of properly disposing of waste while cleaning up your community. You can find community opportunities to pick up litter in the Portland area on the city website.
Read books about going green and recycling. There are tons of children’s literature about recycling and taking care of our world. One of the most well-known books is The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, which showcases the impact of industrialization, but other books include:
- The Berenstain Bears Go Green
- 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World
- One Plastic Bag
- Don’t Throw That Away!
Whether you’re reading books or picking up litter, educating your child on the importance of recycling builds them up to be environmentally conscious adults that will do their part to care for our planet.
Emily currently lives in Orange County, California after spending four years in Illinois and half a year teaching in Florence, Italy. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Knox College and an M.A. in Counseling from the University of San Diego and has taught English to native speakers and ESL students for over three years. When she’s not working as a School Counselor or writing, she enjoys traveling the world, playing instruments, and blogging about Millennial experiences at Long Live the Twenties.