Recycling is one of the simplest, most impactful ways for the average person to care for the planet. Even kids can get on board and participate in a family recycling plan.
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As a parent, it will take more than just setting up the bins and hoping your kids figure out where the paper and plastic go. Here are five ways to educate your kids about the why’s and how’s of recycling so they can take pride in doing their part to care for the Earth.
1. Make It Easy
Recycling doesn’t have to be complicated. The easier it is, the more your kids can participate! Choose logical locations around your house for recycling bins, like a paper bin near your craft station. Set up several bins and label them clearly, using pictures of recyclables for younger children. You can even include you kids in labeling and decorating your recycling containers. By painting and decorating your recycling bins, your children can take a greater sense of ownership in your family recycling program.
2. Educate Them
Children, like adults, need a strong reason for developing a new habit and sticking with it. Teaching your kids about the consequences of not recycling should give them a good incentive for learning to do it. Since we don’t see what happens to trash after it is collected, it’s all too easy to be ignorant of the consequences of not recycling. Don’t let you kids be unaware. Find videos about the life cycle of recyclables that are thrown away. If you can, take your children on a tour of your local recycling center or suggest it as a field trip at their school. Knowing where our trash goes and how we can decrease our waste generation can help kids better understand the impact of their new recycling habit.
3. Start A Green Chart
Like a chore chart, a green chart lists all tasks related to recycling and reusing items. List out responsibilities like sorting recycling, donating clothing, and taking out the compost. Older kids can even be responsible for setting out the bins on pickup day. Mark the chart with a sticker for each completed task and give your kids a reward for achieving their weekly or monthly goal. Put your own name on the chart to keep yourself accountable to setting a good example!
4. Get Crafty
Reusing is just as important as recycling, especially for kids. It encourages them to think about the longer life of an object otherwise considered trash. Teach them how to reuse items imaginatively: plastic bottles can become a bowling game, or a paper towel roll can turn into a pencil holder. By being creative, your kids get to make an inexpensive craft and practice reusing items at the same time.
5. Set An Example
Kids learn by example; they naturally follow along with the habits of their parents and guardians. So the first step in teaching your kids how to recycle is to do it yourself. If you need to, refresh your own understanding of the recycling programs available in your area and how to participate. Establishing recycling as part of your daily routine will make it seem less like a chore. When your kids see you recycling, they will be naturally curious about what it is and how to do it. If you recycle with a good attitude, your kids will see recycling as something fun, simple, and important to do.
The first step towards environmental stewardship at home is teaching your kids how important it is to reduce waste and what happens when we don’t. Setting a good example is the best strategy for your kids to learn. Make sure you clearly show your kids the basics of recycling, and be sure to make it fun and easy for them. Help them make it a daily habit by keeping track of their progress and rewarding them when they do well. The Earth will be their responsibility in the near future, so it’s never too early to teach them how to take care of the environment.