We all know that recycling helps the environment, whether it be by cutting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions or helping to create jobs. The impetus that has been gained in recent years as the importance of recycling has been planted into our consciousness needs to be maintained by the generations going forward. One way we look to do that is by encouraging children to see recycling simply as a part of everyday life. Getting them to grasp the notion of helping to create a better planet is something we can do at home, from a number of angles through fun processes to get them thinking about the importance of recycling for the future. Here are some ideas to engage young minds.
- There are lots of apps and online games that are fun to play and will help to familiarise kids with what items can be recycled and what can’t. National Geographic Kids is a good starting place to look online for resource. YouTube also has a number of kid-friendly recycling videos. They are also plenty of children’s books in libraries which focus on recycling and explain how it works in story form.
- Make posters to explain which items can go into different bins. Place the posters on the sides of the bin at home or on the wall. There are also recycling stickers you can order which you can get your child to place on the correct bins for each item type. Both approaches will help to focus the mind on the process and what goes where.
- Allow children to collect items together that may trigger a payment when recycled. As an incentive let them keep the money the items earn. Many supermarkets now have clothing banks on car parks that will pack by weight for clothes that are recycled. You could allow them to keep this money if they agree to manage the recycling at home too.
- There are lots of craft ideas for activities you can do at home. Packaging can be used for lots of things, egg cartons make great caterpillars, old newspapers can be turned into paper mache or yoghurt cartons can become a robot. Try and get your child to come up with some ideas as to what could be created using different materials. In this instance not only are they recycling but also developing the creative side of the brain. Teaching children the value of reusing and reducing how much they use is an important lesson, since the truth is that a lot of materials that are sent for recycling are not actually turned into something new once they’re sent to the waste collection facility.
- Get your child to elect one of their cuddly toys as the recycling mascot for the house. You can even turn the toy into a kind of recycling superhero and make a cape or outfit for it from recycled materials.
- A trip to the zoo might also help to highlight the importance of recycling. As habitats continue to disappear you can highlight the plight of the animals you see at the zoo. Most children relate to animals well and will be happy to be doing something that they see as helping them.
Whatever you do to introduce your children to recycling you can’t beat regular routine. Make recycling in the house convenient to everyone. The easier it is for kids to recycle the more likely they are to do it. You could even put a box in their bedroom for recycling paper or old magazines. Accessibility is key to developing a routine that will eventually become second nature.