Pin Me

How to Teach Your Kids to Recycle

written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/22/2011

If you want your kids to be environmentally responsible when they grow up, you've got to teach them to recycle while they're still young. Fortunately, teaching kids the value of recycling can be lots of fun.

  • slide 1 of 4

    Making Recycling Fun for Kids

    We are in the middle of a global environmental crisis. It's more important than ever that we establish good recycling habits to take care of the planet. There are many concerned environmentalists who recycle, but it's also important to teach kids to recycle. However, you don't have to make every recycling activity you do with the kids into a chore. There are many fun recycling projects and activities you can use to teach your kids to recycle. By engaging in fun recycling activities with your kids, you can help them to develop a positive attitude about helping Mother Earth. Doing this will increase the chances that kids will grow up to become adults who recycle as much as they can.

  • slide 2 of 4

    Recycling Projects and Activities for Kids

    There are many ways that you can make recycling fun for kids. Try inventing games that involve recycling. For example, when you're sorting the recyclables with the kids, have them toss non-breakable recyclable items such as plastic bottles into the bins from a short distance to see if they can get a "basket." Another game is to have the kids name several ideas about how to reuse the items in the recycling bin. Provide the winner of these games with a small prize.

    Doing recyclable crafts can also help kids to learn about recycling. Be sure to save a lot of your recyclable materials in a safe place. Examples of recyclables you can use in craft projects include printer paper, cardboard boxes, glass and plastic bottles, tin and aluminum cans, old clothing, newspaper and wood scraps. Come up with creative ideas for using the recycled items in your craft projects. For example, make masks from cardboard, airplanes from paper or miniature people and animals from bottles and cans. Older children can be taught to whittle recycled wood into interesting carvings. Recycled glass bottles and jars also make great materials for recycled crafts. You can also make art from recyclable materials. Art projects you can make from recyclables include paper mache, mosaics and collages and sculptures.

    Don't forget that reusing and donating items is one of the best ways to recycle them. Get your kids involved in finding a new purpose for discarded items and giving items away to charity.

  • slide 3 of 4

    Teaching Kids the Facts about Recycling

    Once kids have had some fun with recycling, they'll be more open to learning about recycling facts. Teach kids about the environmental dangers currently facing the planet. Help them to understand how the release of carbon dioxide gases contributes to global warming, and how recycling can reduce those gases. Tell them about how our landfills are growing, and let them know how long it takes for recyclable items to decompose. If necessary, check a website such as EPA.gov to ensure that you have your own facts straight. The important thing is to help kids to really care about the planet. Then they will feel motivated to learn as much as they can about recycling. Quiz your kids about recycling facts. If you like, make a game out of the quiz by offering a small reward to the child for each answer he gets right.

  • slide 4 of 4

    Kids' Recycling Resources

    KidsRecycle.org is a great resource on the web to help you teach your kids to recycle. To use the site, just click the links under "For Kids" on the main page. This site has links to recycling and waste reduction sites on the web, news about kids recycling, an opportunity to design a Zero Waste poster and have it posted on the site and cool recycling songs to download.

    The Kids' Recycling Zone has fun activities like a Recycling Magic Makeover, a true or false recycling quiz and a recycling Superhero Training activity.

    The National Geographic website offers a Flash action game called Recycle Roundup. To play this game, you move your character around the scene to catch or pick up trash that falls from the sky. You then sort it into bins for recyclables, compost and items that can't be recycled. Aluminum cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles and cell phones go in the blue recycling bin. Leaves, tea bags, egg shells, apple cores, carrots and banana peels go in the green compost bin. Paper and cardboard items such as phone books can go in either the recycle bin or the compost bin. Empty toothpaste tubes, broken plates and diapers must go in the red trash bin.

    Using these ideas will help you to get your kids really interested in recycling. Come up with more creative ideas of your own or check the EPA's Environmental Kids' Club for more recycling games and activities.

    Sources and Additional Resources:

    "General Information on the Link Between Solid Waste and Greenhouse Gas Emissions," http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/waste/generalinfo.html

    "Recycling Facts, Games and Crafts" http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/saving_energy/RECYCLINGFactsGamesCrafts02.PDF