Recycling Ideas for Children: 7 Quick Tips

Mom and Dad - here are seven quick tips to help kick-start your kids on the path to being little green machines.

Recycling ideas for children: In addition to leading by example – and by that, I mean taking those extra steps to reduce, reuse and recycle – it’s important to begin teaching your children at a young age. After all, it’s a well-known fact that the earlier habits are picked up, the easier they will become a life-long routine.

Even toddlers can help out – chances are they’ll be pretty happy to lend a hand, especially if you make it into a fun game. Who says recycling has to be a bore or a chore?

Here are 7 ways you can encourage your kids to protect our natural resources and recycle. Get ready, set, recycle!


Recycling Ideas for Children: 7 Quick Tips

1. Dial It Up and Junior Will Follow

Let’s face it – it’s going to be a waste of time teaching your kids to participate in green behavior if you aren’t exactly doing it yourself. Just recycling here and there, whenever the urge strikes, isn’t going to cut it - sorry to say. By leading a green lifestyle – all the time – your children are going to notice. Kids look up to their parents and take their cues from our actions –  the good and the bad. If you make a habit of sorting, recycling, reusing, composting, etc., they are going to pick up on it.


2. Teaching Time

When it comes to the three R’s – reducing, reusing and recycling – there are plenty of opportunities for parents to teach their children how and why they should participate. Simple lessons about where food comes from, showing them how to sort through garbage/recyclables and which items go where is a great starting point. Books are also a great tool to help peak their interest. Living Green Magazine lists the following 15 children’s books about recycling - Books About Recycling.


3.  Pitching In

In addition to tidying their rooms, helping clear the table and whatever other chores your children are assigned, consider adding recycling duties to the list. Option for age-appropriate tasks –  there are plenty to choose from. For example, have your preschool-age child assist with sorting recyclables, taking labels off cans – even picking up litter that lands in your yard or in your neighborhood.  Older children could help by emptying food scraps in to the compost pile/bag, taking garbage and recycle bins to the curb and rinsing out cans, bottles and cartons.

Recycling with your children

Matt Edgar, Flickr


4. Kudos

While your youngster may not be able to understand the impact of their actions in helping to create a sustainable future, most are going to be a big fan of getting a reward. Something as simple as a sticker on their chore chart for a job well done or a little treat at the end of the week – or just taking the time to acknowledge how proud you are of the job they're doing to help out is likely enough to keep them motivated and on the path towards greener pastures – quite literally!


Recycling ideas for children

Scott Clark, Flickr


5. Plant the Seeds

One of the best – and probably the most fun – ways to teach your child about going green is gardening. And really, what better way to ‘grow’ family memories and teach them about sustainability than in a garden? In addition to teaching them about where fresh food comes from, it’s a great way to teach respect and an appreciation for Mother Nature. Gardening can also foster communication, build strong relationships and offer an opportunity to work towards a common goal, according to Kids Gardening –  a website that offers plenty of resources and tips for parents, including monthly activities and a ‘Parents’ Primer’ designed to help you get started.

Recycling Ideas for children

Wikilogia, Flickr


6. Get Crafty

There’s no doubt that being a parent can get expensive. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to spend much at all when it comes to arts and crafts projects that the whole family can enjoy. Chances are you’ll find inspiration within recycle bins and throwaway boxes. Objects like discarded toilet paper rolls, empty milk cartons, paper plates and anything borrowed from Mother Nature, such as rocks, pinecones, acorns, leaves, etc. can be used to great something amazing. For some inspiring crafty ideas to get your family to reduce, reuse and recycle, check out this list - Great Craft Ideas.


7. Game Night!

Kids love playing games, so why not incorporate some friendly competition into their recycling duties? Play a game of recycle relay by having each member of the family race to sort and recycle their pile of garbage the fastest. Of course, you’ll have to make sure they know how to separate the piles and clean plastics beforehand. Whoever is the fastest wins the title of ‘Recycle Superstar.’


And there you have it – 7 simple ways to help your child prepare for a brighter and ‘greener’ future. Just remember – reducing, recycling and reusing don’t have to be a chore. Have fun making it a family affair.


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