Do you recycle in your home? Do your kids help? We do the basics, and the kids help out here and there, we love to upcycle our recyclables a lot. But today, Swapna from Practical Mom is sharing some tips on getting your kids recycling and also learning about the recycling process itself. I always think its better when you expect something of someone to explain why it matters, what difference it will make.
It’s the weekend, so my 4 year old glances at the recycle garbage bin that is exclusively “assigned” to him.
“It’s full! Let’s go empty it!”.
He pulls out the garbage bag and carries it down to the basement where our main bins are. Softly humming a vague tune (with added sound effects!), he pulls out each item from the garbage bag, and toss it in the big bins according to plastics, paper & organics.
He is still figuring out paper is spelled p-a-p-e-r and plastic is spelled p-l-a-s-t-i-c, so he confirms before he begins, but overall he knows the drill. He is satisfied when the bag’s empty.
We go back to our home and he pulls out a cup of apricot flavored yogurt, slurps down every bit of it and announces “this cup is recyclable!” and tosses it into the recycle bin.
(Which makes me wonder- how come Danone’s Minion branded sweet yogurts cups are not recyclable, yet their natural ones are?)
(Also makes me wonder whether we should switch to Lays from Pringle on the basis of which cans can be recycled; despite the extra saltiness?)
What if every person on this planet thought this way? What if even a tenth followed this process? Think of the resources we would be saving!
Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil & 4100 kwh of electricity (Source: Macaw Book’s Go Green: Let’s Recycle).
I figured out a *brilliant* way to make this work.
To start recycling young!
Young children are enthusiastic, absorb details like a thirsty sponge and join in with gusto! (Try this with a teenager or an adult and you’re likely to get a perfunctory nod.)
But seriously, young kids? How do we even begin to teach them how to recycle?
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1. Make it sound like an adult, grown up job: Little kids can’t wait to grow up! Grow up and do cool things such as drive mama everywhere & cross the road on their own! They’re pretty much game for anything that even “kind of” sounds off-limits.
2. Don’t oversell it: “WOW! look at this cool thing that does cool stuff! Mama’s gonna have so much fun with it because it is so cool!” is something that will guarantee a blank look if not an utterly suspicious “oh boy, what is it this time?” one from your kid.
3. Read to them: *ANYTHING* can be taught to little children with the help of good books. It is the easiest way to break down complicated concepts. The clearer they are with the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ the easier it is to convince them to do it. Here are my top 3 picks.
Forget about the environment, let’s first get this recycling thing straight. What exactly happens after the recycle truck drives away? They further sort items according to the number stamped inside the recycle sign. The plastic bottles are melted into plastic pellets and then molded into… well about anything! carpets, fleece jackets, sleeping bags or bottles again! Suzanne Slade’s A Plastic Bottle’s Journey is absolutely perfect. I cannot imagine a more articulate and engaging description!
What about glass? And organics? Usborne’s See Inside Rubbish & Recycling is your pick.
And finally, the big picture. How do little habits serve the world around us? Go Green: Let’s Recycle by Macaw Books (sorry, I am unable to find this available on Amazon, check you local library) takes you through that journey. Go Green is a simple series of books depicted by conversations between family members. Conversations that effortlessly connect to children!
4. Lay out specific tasks. Each kid to be assigned jobs. For example, each child gets his or her turn to sort items into plastics, paper, glass, organics & empty the bin. As a rule though everyone in the family looks for the recycle logo before tossing stuff out!
5. Be consistent. It’s not just an “Earth Day” fun activity, but a consistent task to be done regularly! Only consistently will ensure a life long habit that will make the whole family proud!
How do your kids help recycle in your home?
By the way, Earth day is Friday, April 22 this year.