No matter where you live, you likely have the ability to recycle. Many cities or states in the US require residents to recycle certain items. However, even if not required, it is important that everyone do their part to help reduce waste. As a parent, there are a number of ways to get your children involved in recycling.
Recycling Made Simple
Children, especially young ones, don't need a long drawn out explanation about recycling. They should know that items can be reused or recycled to prevent waste and help preserve our earth. Recycling means that a discarded item can be used again. It might be made into the same kind of product, or maybe something else.
You may want to tell them that:
- Recycling helps keep animals safe. Things like the plastic rings that holds soda cans into six-packs can hurt birds, ducks, and other animals if they are irresponsibly released into the environment.
- Recycling leaves more room in landfills for things that can't be recycled. Our earth can only hold so much garbage; we have to help keep landfills as low as possible.
- Recycling saves natural resources such as trees. Paper is made from trees, but paper can also be recycled.
These simple concepts give children a good start to understanding a larger environmental situation.
Getting Children Involved
Once children understand the concept of recycling, they can start making use of what they've learned.
If you live in an apartment or condominium, there may be recycling dumpsters for all residents to use. If not, there are dumpster rental companies, such as Lakeshore Recycling. Many areas provide homeowners and renters with recycle bins too, and they are often kept outside. Have your children make recycle containers for use in the house. You can buy some waste baskets or containers and let them decorate them in a way that will help identify what type of recyclable it holds. You should have at least three bins, one for paper, one for aluminum, and one for plastic and glass.
Plastic is marked with a plastic identification code. Children who are old enough can be taught which codes your area allows to be recycled and how to identify them. The number is stamped on the plastic, usually on the bottom. It is inside the recycle symbol. You may want to make a chart with the identification numbers you are recycling.
Teach your children to reuse items. Reusing is recycling within the home, and it not only helps the environment, but saves money. Here are some fun ideas for children to participate in reusing things:
- Wash and reuse plastic tubs from butter, margarine, cottage cheese, sour cream, and other food things that come in tubs. The containers can be used in the kitchen, but also in children's rooms to hold small toys and game pieces.
- Purchase some canvas bags and let your kids decorate them. Use them for your grocery bags. Explain to children how you are reusing bags while preserving the paper or plastic bags the store usually uses.
- Save individual juice bottles and use them for a bowling game.
- Use juice boxes as building blocks for young children.
- Save magazines for making collages.
- Shred newspaper for use as bedding in pet cages.
Once your children know about the importance of recycling, and which items are recyclable, they will probably be excellent helpers around the house and community.