In our quest to be eco-friendly and to raise our children in a world where sustainable environmentally friendly living becomes second nature, reduce, reuse and recycle should be uttered mantra like each time we are tempted to simply fling something in the bin!
Reducing, reusing and recycling are life skills and responsibilities that young children can readily embrace if involved in from an early age – almost all little ones will enjoy the responsibility of being entrusted with a special task like keeping tabs on what’s being binned, and helping to label up specific boxes or bins for ‘recycling’ or ‘compost’.
Make it Fun!
Turning your eco endeavours into a fun activity is a sure fire way to inspire and encourage your children, and actively involving them in your efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle will pay dividends when the three Rs become as easy as ABC!
How to Reduce
Round up the kids and do a quick cupboard overview. Ask them to identify which products come in the most amounts of packaging. What observations do they make? Point out things like cardboard sleeves on pre-packed food, cellophane wrappings on boxed goods, excessive protective packaging on cakes and biscuits. Can they think of other more ecologically sound ways to pack food stuffs and goods? Visit farmers markets and farm shops to see how food can be displayed and packaged without the use of plastic wrappings and bags.
Ways to Reuse
What do you regularly throw away that could be used again? Don’t just think of things that could be reused for the purpose they were designed – most things can be used for something else with a bit of imagination, especially where children are concerned! Empty yogurt pots for example can be used to grow seeds in; empty plastic take-away boxes with lids can be washed and used as storage containers for beads and buttons or small art and craft items. Make it a rule to think creatively before consigning anything to the bin!
What can we Recycle?
Most recyclable products bear a recycling symbol, and local authorities provide suitable facilities for their disposal – but before you even get to the throwing away stage, check for recycle-ability before you buy! When doing the weekly shop, encourage your children to look out for the different recycling symbols, and discover what they all mean.
Sussing out the Symbols
There are various marks on recycled or recyclable products – glass and steel that is already – or can be – recycled bears its own logo, as do ‘environmentally friendly’ European products. American products may show their own unique green symbol – how many logos can your kids find? Why not set them the task of finding out what each ones means and drawing its symbol? Look out for:
- The Mobius Loop
- Mobius Loop with Percentage
- Green Dot
- Reward their efforts
Keep your children’s interest and commitment to reducing, recycling and reusing by rewarding their efforts. You could create a Three Rs sticker chart or graph showing your reduction in rubbish, the number of items you’ve repaired or reused in another capacity, and the number of filled boxes you’ve sent for recycling – a simple thing that will spur on small children and give them a visual reminder of how well they are doing with their environmental efforts!