Teaching your kids about recycling can be difficult, because the concept is often fairly abstract for younger children. Talking to them regularly about the benefits of recycling is crucial, but also be sure to participate in green activities that highlight that importance. Older children and teenagers should be encouraged to apply what they have learned to benefit the community by volunteering with recycling or composting programs at their school or other public facilities.
Items you will need:
- Recycling bins
- Composting bins
Discuss the energy saved by recycling in a visual way that is easy for your child to imagine. For example, you might tell your child that the energy saved by recycling a single aluminum can is enough to light a 100-watt light bulb for 20 hours (see References 1).
Create an area in your home with different colored bins for recyclable items. If your children are in elementary school, ask them to decorate the bins. For younger children, place an identifying picture on the outside of the container.
Encourage your child to clean items as necessary and place them in the recycling bins. Younger children may appreciate stars on a chart that can be redeemed for a small reward each week as an added incentive to sort recyclable items.
Point out products made from recycled materials while shopping and encourage your child to read the labels to find out if the packaging materials can be recycled. (See References 3)
Visit your local recycling center to show your child the different materials that are collected and recycled. Make sure to inquire with the recycling center about how they recycle items such as computers, lightbulbs and batteries, as well. Explain to your child how not recycling certain items can pollute the land and lead to ground water contamination. (See References 3)
Volunteer at your child's school to help with any recycling and waste reduction initiatives, such as composting, waste-free lunches or recycling drives. Discuss the purpose of these programs with your children to encourage their participation.
Create a composting area in your home. Add vegetable and fruit scraps to the compost to be used in the garden. If your home is too small to accommodate a composting bin, research community gardens in the area that accept scraps for composting. (See References 3)
- Encourage your children to save cans and bottles for recycling. In states that require a container deposit, the return deposits can be given to the children to supplement their allowance.
- Supervise young children when placing glass into a recycling container to avoid shattering the glass and causing injury.
Amy A. Whittle is a freelance writer who specializes in home improvement, green living and pet care issues. Her work has been published by Woman's Day.com, the Huffington Post and other online and print publications.