It’s important to teach kids how to recycle from an early age. Kids need to know the environmental impact their carbon footprint will have on the world that they will inherit. Providing one’s kids with the environmental education they need will help to ensure the future of our planet.
According to California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery or Cal Recycle, Parents can start educating their children by teaching them about the waste management hierarchy: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
- Reduce-cut back on wasteful consumable items by buying items with the least amount of packaging.
- Reuse-find ways to reuse old items or give them away to charity or another person that can use them.
- Recycle-find ways to recycle all throw away items.
Teach Kids how to Reduce Waste
Simple trips to the grocery store with mom or dad could help kids learn about reducing waste. Parents can show their kids that buying fresh vegetables and fruits actually produces less waste that buying canned or pre-packaged foods. There’s also added health benefits to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. However, it seems that totally avoiding all packaging material is impossible. Some great tips for reducing packaging waste are:
- Purchase products with recyclable packaging.
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned of pre-packaged.
- Buy organic products whenever possible.
- Plant a vegetable garden instead of buying packaged vegetables at the store.
- Avoid buying Styrofoam packages that cannot be recycled.
It’s also a good idea to discuss with kids the difference between needs and wants. Yes, they may want a new video game, with plastic packaging and potential to become future electronic waste, but perhaps taking up hiking or riding a bike would be a better way to spend one’s time. This would eliminate unnecessary waste by engaging in more healthful activities.
Cut Back on Back to School Shopping by Reusing
Parents often find themselves trekking off to the mall or local retailer to purchase school supplies for the upcoming school year, when their kids already have perfectly good school supplies at home. Teaching Kids how they can help the environment by reusing items from one school year to the next is not only smart, it will save mom and dad some money as well.
- Repair gently used binders.
- Reuse old notebooks with usable paper.
- Make scratch paper pads or notepads out of old homework pages or notebooks. Cut paper into 4 in x 4 in squares, and staple at the top.
- Pass on last year’s books and notebooks to younger students who can use them this year.
- Find pens, pencils, highlighters, crayons and colored pencils form last year and reuse them.
- Repair a gently used backpack with patches or with mom’s sewing machine rather than buying a new one.
Furthermore, parents really don’t need to buy their kids a brand new wardrobe every year just for school. Instead, buy clothes for kids only when they’ve outgrown their old ones, or when they need to add a few items to their existing wardrobe, or for the change of seasons. Teaching kids to take care of their clothes if far more important that going out and buying the latest trends, only to be discarded within a few months.
Kids Earn Money from Recycling
One big motivator in teaching kids to recycle is that they can earn money. Simply set up a recycling station in your garage with separate bins for paper, plastic, and aluminum cans and for miscellaneous food containers. Currently the California redemption value for plastic bottles 24 oz. or smaller is five cents per bottle. For plastic bottles over 24 oz. earn ten cents per bottle. Kids can earn money by recycling the following items:
- Steel and Aluminum Cans-Beverage cans, food cans, aerosol cans.
- Aluminum Food Containers-Pie plates, dinner trays, foil.
- Plastic-Plastic that bears the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) plastic resin codes of a 1 or 2.
- Paper-newspaper, magazines, catalogs, phone books, bulk mail, office paper, computer paper, envelopes, gift wrapping paper, cardboard, food boxes, shoeboxes, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, paper egg cartons.
- Glass-Beverage bottles and glass jars along with aluminum or metal lids.
Another fun way to get kids motivated to recycle is to help them create fun and useful art projects with used items. For instance, and egg carton can be transformed into a seedling garden, and then broken apart and planted as the seedlings mature. Another idea is to take old newspaper to make paper Mache projects like an exploding volcano. Simply use a water bottle, paper Mache, a bit of paint, some baking soda and vinegar, and boom! Kids will learn about the earth’s tectonic activity while saving the planet at the same time!