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Live Every Day Like Earth Day: How To Teach Your Children About The Fundamentals Of Recycling

Earth Day may not be until next April, but you don't need a special day to introduce the concept of recycling to your child. According to Babble, the average American family wastes around 150 pounds of paper each year. Americans also use about 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour, so needless to say, recycling is a necessary aspect of keeping this world sustainable and usable for its future inhabitants. Like many ideals and values, recycling is best taught to children at a young age. Here are some simple ways to help introduce your children to the wonderful world of recycling.

Start With Education

Children won't understand the reason for recycling unless they know where it fits into the grander scheme of waste management. That's why you should make it a point to buy some child-friendly books that talk about recycling and make it fun. Be creative, use funny voices, ad lib your own clever puns, and do whatever you have to do to engage your children and help them understand the necessity of recycling. As difficult as it may be, it's important to also communicate the negative effects that waste buildup and lack of recycling can have on our environment. Non-recycled plastics can make their way to the ocean and wreak havoc on their delicate ecosystems and animals such as fish, mammals, and sea turtles, which have traveled our oceans for the last 100 million years. Emphasize the importance of protecting these animals so that they can live happy lives. The more you can break down these concepts for your children, the more passionate they'll be about wanting to recycle and protect the animals.

Design and Personalize Recycling Bins

Letting your child take charge and design their own personal recycling bin is a great way to jump-start them on the path to eco-consciousness. Haley Shapley writes on Earth911, "Sorting out recyclables is a surprisingly fun activity for young kids. Let them decorate bins with pictures of what should go in each one (paper, plastic, cans, etc. -- depending on how the recycling is sorted in your area) and then give them some items to practice sorting. Explain how it’s important to put everything in the right bin so that it can all be processed easily once it gets to the recycling facility."

Visit A Recycling Center Together

Roughly 60% of the U.S. population -- about 148 million people -- have access to a plastics recycling program. Find where your local recycling center is located and take your kids for a visit. If you're not sure where yours is located, use this recycling center database to determine the specifics. Many recycling center employees are passionate about their work and happy to take time out of their day to demonstrate recycling importance to your children. Many parents suggest going to volunteer with your child at a recycling center to get the most hands-on experience, but getting involved in some way is always the best practice. Ultimately, interacting with your children as you teach them about the fundamentals of recycling is the best way to keep them engaged and set them on the path to becoming eco-friendly adults.


  1. We started this young in our children, and now with our grandson. It is so important to teach children the importance of recycling.


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