2 min read
Three children putting items into recycle bins.

Modern delivery services are like real-life enchantments in the eyes of many people today. You can fill your virtual cart, press a button, and within days, or even hours, a package arrives on your doorstep. Amazing as it is, it’s important for people to know that those waste boxes and containers aren’t magic. They don’t just appear out of nowhere, and they don’t vanish into thin air. Recycling is something that people of all ages can learn about. For kids, teaching them how to recycle waste begins at home.

The Recycling Problem

The United States creates more than 12 percent of the planet’s waste but is home to only 4 percent of the world’s population. Although 75 percent of American household waste is recyclable, people only recycle about 30 percent of it. Aluminum, paper, plastics, and food end up in local landfills. America’s trash is largely comprised of goods that are used only briefly. More than 28 percent of all trash is packaging, equating to 82 million tons of material that is habitually thrown out after a product is purchased or used.

The global environmental challenges can be overwhelming for adults to navigate. However, can you imagine how powerless children may feel about some of it? Providing them with tools and strategies on how to help in their little, but impactful ways can be empowering.

Recycling Activities

Want to raise eco-conscious kids? Consistency and example-setting are key to responsibly disposing of any unused packaging and other recyclable materials. You can also have fun. Check out the following interactive, eco-friendly activities to teach kids about recycling. You’ll go green together and have fun doing it!

Read a Book

Storytime is an excellent opportunity to teach children how to protect the planet. Children of all ages can enjoy earth-friendly selections. Alabama Extension offers the Lend an Ear Virtual Storytime Series reading program that encourages children to read about environmental issues, such as recycling. Sessions generally run during the academic school year and you can find fun books with exciting characters.

Visit a Recycling Center

Many local recycling facilities offer special programs and public tours to school-aged learners. At these facilities, children can discover for themselves where all those aluminum cans, glass bottles, cardboard boxes, and other materials go and the surprising ways they can be renewed.

Make a Game of It

Create friendly contests with creative recycling games. The following are a few ideas:

  • As an outdoor activity for the whole family, join a neighborhood cleanup initiative and compete to collect, photograph, and share geolocated trash data. Apps such as Rubbish and Debris Tracker help to create litter-free and sustainable communities.
  • Play online games—like Litter Critters—that help children learn how to divide common items between compost, recycle, and trash bins.
  • Work on your jump shot while playing a game of junk shot. Set up bins in the backyard and throw unbreakable, recyclable items into the correct bin.

Green Living at Home

Educating today’s young people on the importance of recycling allows them to grow up with an awareness of turning unwanted resources into opportunities. People have a responsibility to keep the Earth clean, healthy, and beautiful. In teaching the next generation of environmental stewards about recycling, you are not only helping them to reduce waste and save natural resources, but instilling accountability, responsibility, and environmental awareness in them from a tender age.

Other kid-friendly environmental resources can be found under the Natural Resources section of the Alabama Extension website at www.aces.edu.