Recycling should be a family-wide effort that comes naturally to everyone – though like most household tasks is much easier said than done where children are concerned!
It’s no big secret that children soon begin to resent anything they perceive as a chore, so it makes sense to introduce recycling as something that is ‘fun’ to do rather than something they ‘have’ to do.
If your local authority operates a weekly recycling collection, then you are probably already geared up to sorting your rubbish and recyclable items. Having dedicated bins makes this task a whole lot easier, and gives children a sense of routine where rubbish disposable is concerned. If you have a recycling point locally where you can drop off boxes of bottles and tins etc, pay it a visit so your children can familiarize themselves with the whole recycling process. What else can be recycled at the depot? Ask you children what facilities they would implement – do they think the resource is adequate? Encourage them to think for themselves about what is and what isn’t recyclable and what they could do to decrease the amount of rubbish they throw away.
Let’s face it; it is a whole lot easier throwing all our waste in one bin. No one really wants to be sorting through food scraps, glass bottles and old baked beans cans and putting them in their allocated place – but unfortunately, if you are going to take recycling seriously, then a one stop shop for rubbish has to stop. The easiest solution is to get a compartmentalized bin, one that has a bucket for general waste, glass, paper and compostable scraps – then your recycling will become a cinch! There are lots of different types on offer – have a look on-line at all the different designs – what advantages and disadvantages can your children spot with each one?
If you have more than one child, each could have a particular ‘recyclable’ that they are responsible for, i.e. paper, tin or glass (with care and caution). If you do not have a sectioned recycling bin, get the children involved in choosing lidded containers to store the items in before they are collected or taken to the recycling point.
What Goes Where?
Have a look for the ‘recyclable’ logo on the things you have in your kitchen cupboards. Get your children draw up a poster showing what items go into what bin and what can be recycled from your normal household waste. Think of things that you throw away most often: baked bean and soup cans, plastic milk cartons, glass jars from past sauces – can all of these things be disposed of responsibly? Which of your recycling bins do they go in?
Fun and Games
Basing some activities around the theme of recycling will continue to get the message home to your kids even when then are having fun!
Encourage art products with a recycling theme, using materials that would have otherwise been thrown away, bottle tops, cereal boxes, toilet rolls tubes and sweet wrappers can all be utilized in art and craft projects.
Make recycling posters and progress charts to record just how much stuff you are managing to recycle each month. Encourage younger children to recycle old clothes by implementing a dressing up box full of cast-offs they are free to customize and cut up.
Make recycling fun from the start and it will never become a chore!