While a global emphasis on waste recycling has rapidly progressed in recent years, there’s still much room for improvement. The facts remain that approximately 75 percent of American waste is recyclable, yet only around 30 percent of that number is actually recycled.
And just because recycling awareness may seem more prevalent today, doesn’t necessarily mean that cognizance is translating into action. The Environmental Protection Agency reports a reduction in overall recycling rates in recent years, with the overall recycling rate at 32.1 percent in 2018, down from 34.7 percent in 2015.
This is why investing in environmentally educating our future is so crucial to contributing to the beneficial sustainability practices that may indeed save our planet one day. The more our children comprehend and perform suitable recycling practices, the more environmentally aware our future generations to come will be.
But this requires more than merely telling our kids to throw plastic bottles away in the recycling bin rather than the garbage can. It means teaching them the importance of what they’re doing, as well as helping them understand exactly how and why recycling is so important to our planet.
If you’re interested in increasing your child’s environmental awareness, then here are seven easy and efficient ways to teach your kids about the benefits of recycling.
1. Recycling Chores
Implementing recycling into your child’s weekly chore schedule is an easy way to integrate responsibility and integrity into their daily routines. It helps them get comfortable with the practice of recycling at a young age, so it will continue to be an inherent duty for the rest of their lives.
Be sure to review with them what materials can and cannot be recycled, as well as get them acquainted with what day the recycling services come by to take recycled waste away.
General recycling chores for your kids can include:
● Sorting and organizing materials
● Rinsing out any food waste from containers or jars
● Flattening out all cardboard boxes
● Properly disposing of food compost
● Taking the recycling bin out to the curb
2. Arts & Crafts
The creative possibilities of making recycling art are practically infinite. Milk cartons and toilet paper rolls can quickly turn into rocket ships, egg cartons can make for great caterpillars, newspapers are always suitable for morphing into pirate hats, and wine corks are great for crafting cute, googly-eyed bumblebees.
Turning every Sunday afternoon into a recycling arts and crafts hour will expand your child’s creativity while exploring the merits of reusing recycled materials.
3. Children’s Recycling Books
Rather than sitting your kids down for a lecture on the ethics of recycling and environmental sustainability, why not incorporate a little learning into their literature? There are dozens and dozens of exciting, colorful, and informative recycling children’s books available at your local bookstores, that can creatively explain and demonstrate the wonders of recycling.
You can even find plenty of recycling coloring books online that are composed completely out of recycled products and materials.
4. Donating Clothes & Toys
Installing the values of donating secondhand clothes and toys at a young age is a valuable recycling trait that will only serve to benefit them in the long run. When they start to grow out of their clothes or are no longer interested in playing with old toys, help them organize their possessions and take them with you to a secondhand store donation dropoff site.
While you’re there, take them through the store and help them get a glimpse of how donating and reusing clothes and other items helps benefit the community.
5. Reusable Household Items
Helping your children understand the concept of recycling can easily be demonstrated by finding new, alternative uses for recyclable products and materials after their initial use has expired.
This can allude to turning recyclable materials into common household items, such as:
● Milk Jugs Into Bird Feeders
● Glass Jars Into Candle Holders
● Plastic Containers Into Garden Pots
● Plastic Bottles Into Coin Banks
● Egg Cartons Into Jewelry Organizers
● Newspaper Into Packing Materials
● Soda Cans Into Pencil Holders
6. Reusable Shopping Bags
Plastic bags continue to be one of the most used and least recycled items in the world. Every year, Americans use over 100 billion plastic bags, only 1 percent of which is returned for recycling.
Getting your children used to the idea of using recyclable and reusable shopping bags at a young age is another valuable, environmentally-friendly life lesson.
Let them help carry the reusable shopping bag on your trip to the grocery store, so they can get into the routine of using one for the rest of their lives.
Getting your children to volunteer for any cause will install a number of moral values they’ll keep with them forever. Children who volunteer have been found to have better stress management skills later on in life, as well as increased self-confidence and a 27 percent chance at gaining employment later on in life.
Signing you and your kids up once a month for an afternoon of picking up litter and recycling it when necessary is just another opportunity for your child to better comprehend all the benefits recycling provides for their world.
8. Customize Your Recycling Bins
Customizing a recycling bin starts with understanding the amount of waste your household produces and how often materials are tossed out to help streamline the process.
Creating a container that is kid friendly means considering unique shapes and having an easy opening to get more challenging items inside. Some children respond better to colors and others to numbers and shapes, so doing some research online and finding bins that will help encourage and engage the child to engage with them is another method.
Incorporating appropriate labeling can also help the child more easily identify where items need to go, so they don't have to question it and feel confident in their decision. Consider creating customized graphics with images of the things that need to go into the container.
Add encouraging messages they understand, or consider making a bin together to create a fun and easy item they want to use.
9. Take Kids to a Local Recycling Facility
Sometimes having hands-on experience is the best way to teach important lessons and create value, and taking them to a local recycling center can foster this. Visiting the center will let them see all the behind-the-scenes production required to recycle and help them to understand what happens when the garbage truck takes their recycling.
Letting them witness the inner workings of the recycling facility can also help educate them on where the items they use end up and make them more aware of why recycling is so important.
In addition, if you live in an area where the recycling center pays you for plastics, glass, cans, or cardboard, this can be another incentive for the child to actively recycle.
Teach them how to separate the waste; and if they choose to collect it themselves, they can be rewarded with payment from the center for their effort.
Contact LJP Waste Solutions For All Your Residential Recycling Needs
Nurturing your children to be more environmentally-aware is one of the more rewarding parental gifts you can provide for them. The more families that are proactive at recycling, the brighter our planet’s future becomes. If you’re in need of any residential recycling services at your household, you can count on LJP Waste Solutions to responsibly dispose of all your waste.
Contact us today to learn which waste solutions work best for your family, or give us a call at 507.625.1968 to speak directly with one of our waste management experts.