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Teaching Kids the Value of Recycling

recycled tires

 

With climate change and inflation on the horizon, being materialistic, wasteful, and acquisitive are traits we don’t want to pass on to our kids. They won’t help them become responsible adults (and the environment will suffer for it in turn). Now more than ever, recycling is an essential habit to develop and practice. Here are some suggestions on how to go about it.


Go on an educational field trip


A bottle recycling center, a crafts workshop that uses recycled paper and other materials, or a rubber mulch facility may not sound as exciting as a trip to Disneyland, but you and your kids will definitely learn useful things. These places can teach you how objects you see as “junk” and “useless” can transform them into products that help make your life easier and safer. You can sign up for a guided tour, suggest class field trips to the school administration, or even volunteer at these centers during summer.


Turn it into fun activities


Kids will jump on any activity if you turn it into a game or make it part of playtime. For instance, you can challenge your kids to transform something recyclable like a plastic bottle or the cardboard roll of toilet paper into a toy or sculpture. Not only will they learn to repurpose everyday objects - you will also help them become more creative, imaginative, and hone their problem-solving skills.   


You can also use color-coded bins to help them recycle in a more organized fashion. Bottles can go into one, things made of plastic can go to another, and paper and cardboard in another bin. To keep things fun and competitive, have the kids tally how much they’ve recycled at the end of the week, and award them with points to be tallied monthly for a prize.


Help them recognize recycled products


With sophisticated technology and innovation, a lot of recycled products look like they’re newly manufactured. Children might not recognize them for what they are straightaway. You can make a list of products that are recycled, and help your kids identify them. From toilet paper to their school supplies, through to the rubber mulch in their playground, kids need to recognize that they are living within a recycling revolution and are an invaluable part of it, too.


Lead by example


You can’t just mouth off about the value of recycling, and yet continue to be wasteful yourself. If your kids see you using up an entire pad of paper for doodling or scribbling, you aren’t imparting anything valuable to them. Children will learn by observing and following their parents or teachers, so be a good example. Teach yourself recycling by reading up on it, participating in Earth Day activities, and joining community efforts to recycle and reduce waste.



 




Alan Weiman
Alan Weiman

Author