Want to teach your kids the importance of recycling? Get them involved in the process! Once your kids discover how much of our everyday trash can be recycled, and how easy it is to keep those items out of the landfill, you can bet they’ll be eager to help. Start by explaining the concept of recycling and then work together to create a home recycling center. Remember, recycling can be fun. In fact, we often look to the recycling bin for craft supplies. Even if you already sort your cans, bottles, and paper, and we hope you do, you can update your system and make it more kid-friendly with our tips.
Step 1: Explain Recycling to Your Kids
Help kids understand the concept of recycling through play. PlanToys Eco Recycling Game is a good bet for the preschool set. The natural rubberwood game tokens and recycling bins help children learn about recycling different items – the first person who gets all of their tokens recycled wins. Another good way to helps kids understand how recycling works is through books. We like Michael Recycle, which tells the tale of a green-caped crusader who teaches people about recycling and cleans up the town. You can also explain to your kids that their small efforts can save trees, energy and other resources, and show them some products you have around the house that are made from recycled items including clothing, notebooks, and toys.
Step 2: Know Your City’s Recycling Rules
If your garbage collection service offers curbside recycling, call them to determine what can be recycled. It’s not always as simple as glass, metal, plastic and paper. Even if glass is accepted, some colors may not be accepted in your area, or while plastic milk jugs may be okay, tetra packs may not be allowed in the recycling bin. You’ll also want to find out which numbered types of plastic can be recycled. Be sure to do all of your research before you rule out recycling a certain item. Just because something isn’t collected curbside, doesn’t mean it must go in the trash. For example, there may be a drop-off location in your town for batteries. Earth911’s Recycling Database is a good resource for finding local recycling and drop-off locations for all kinds of items. A call to your local city council can also provide information on local drop-off spots if curbside recycling isn’t an option.
Once you get the scoop, share your findings with your kids, and talk about why some items have to be recycled in different places. You may even want to look into visiting a local recycling plant so kids can see the magic first-hand.
Step 3: Make a List of Recyclables
Working together with your kids, create a list of all the items that can and can’t be recycled. For younger children, type up the list on the computer and print it out, and then let them decorate with crayons and drawings. For older children, have them write the list and add drawings on their own. You’ll want to post this list next to your recycling station, and you may even want a second copy to leave in the kitchen if your recycling center is elsewhere.
Step 4: Pick a Spot for Your Recycling Center
Decide where you want to keep your recycling center. In the garage? Under the kitchen sink? In the pantry? In the laundry room? Wherever you choose, make sure it’s accessible to all members of your family — don’t put it up too high, or in a hard to access area if you want to encourage your kids to deposit their items themselves. You’ll also need to make sure there is enough room for separate bins for each type of item.
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