Recycling at home with kids teaches them not only to cut down on waste, but to also care for where they live. It is an eco-friendly introduction to the larger concept of protecting our Mother Earth. Getting the hang of recycling may seem tough for kids. However, here are recycling tips that are easy for them to understand.
Make It Fun
Don’t forget the fun factor when recycling at home with kids. Start a contest to see which family member can recycle the most items in a week. Label bins with name tags so it is clearly visible how much each person is recycling.
Play a “Recyclable or Not” game. Fill a bag full of household items. Have your kids reach into the bag and pull out one item. Then, they need to say whether the item is recyclable or not. Give older children a time limit. The kid with the most correct answers wins.
Hold an in-home scavenger hunt. Hand out a list of recyclable items and the first kid to collect everything wins.
Have the kids come up with ways to do things that don’t involve using plastic.
Keep a box for odds-and-ends such as bottle tops, bread bag clips, paper towel rolls, loose buttons, toothpicks, etc. These seemingly “junk” items are perfect to reuse in arts and crafts projects. Have your kids select a few pieces to integrate into a larger collage. Challenge them to use as many items as possible to build a 3D sculpture. Hold a “Recycling Art Show” with their creations.
Award any contest or game winner with eco-friendly prizes.
Get Kids Inspired
Children love to learn about other kids who are making a difference in the world. Introduce your kids to environmental superhero kids like Greta Thunberg. She took on the United Nations in December 2018 with her concerns about climate change and what should be done.
You can also get your kids involved with organizations like Earth Force, Green Kids Club, and Kids For Saving Earth that “help kids help the earth.” They’ll be more inclined to follow through at home with the first-hand experience that recycling reduces waste and emissions. Kids will relate to the idea that recycling benefits the well-being of animals, plant life, and the air we all breathe.
Teach The Basics
Teach kids what it means to “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” at home. Give examples of how to apply these concepts with unused toys or for clothing that no longer fits. Instead of throwing these items into the trash, donate them to be reused by other kids. There are businesses that recycle old clothing into new designs. There are even crafting options for recycling cotton t-shirts.
Prompt kids to reduce waste in their everyday lives. Get them to actively participate in the upkeep of the household. Have them pick up their bedrooms or clean up after eating. This provides a first-hand look at how resources are used, and the inspiration to think about possible alternatives. What can they do with all their old toddler board books? Do they really need to drink with plastic straws? While chores can be tedious, they teach responsibility, innovative thinking, and initiative.
Educate kids about materials that can easily be recycled. Make a two-column list detailing what items your family uses that can and can’t be recycled. Your local recycling company may already have such a list. For very young kids who do not read, cut out and/or print out pictures to accompany the items’ names.
Be sure to also check with your local recycling plant for their sorting requirements. Some require that items are sorted by material. Some recycling plants also allow you to recycle paper with staples or envelopes with plastic because it eventually gets sorted out. This makes your recycling job much easier.
It’s a lot easier to recycle when the items you purchase are meant to be recycled. Encourage your whole family to shop smart. Look for products with labels that indicate they are made with recycled materials.
At grocery stores and markets, challenge your kids to find the items you need in recyclable packaging. Remind them to look for the universal recycling symbol. For example, rather than purchase milk in a plastic jug, buy it in a glass bottle.
Whenever possible, move away from plastic. Instead, buy reusable glass and/or metal containers for food prep and storage. Another effective way to cut down on waste is to use cloth items instead of paper products. Wipe up spills with cloth towels rather than paper towels. Use cloth napkins at meals.
Set An Example
Besides practicing the art of recycling yourself, there are things to do every day to help your kids develop good, environmentally-friendly habits. Put your computer to “sleep” instead of leaving the screen on. Unplug your cell phone charger if it is not in use. Flip the lights off when you leave a room. Have your kids turn the water off while they brush their teeth. Not only will these habits save money on your home’s utility bills, but they also help to set your kids up for success in their own future households.
Recycling at home with kids doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with basic concepts that make sense and are easy to understand. Encourage your children to make smarter choices. Recycling can be a fun activity for the whole family—and ultimately helps in Moving Happiness Home™.
Recycling At Home With Kids
* * * * *
Cristin Howard, Guest Contributor
Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, with the goal to make parenting more rewarding and less stressful for moms and dads. She writes on the ups and downs of parenting, as well as solutions to common challenges.
Recycling At Home With Kids
All images via Pexels.com