Three Ways Kids Can Learn Good Recycling Habits

As parents and teachers, we are often concerned with the future world our children will inherit. As more packaging waste is generated and left to slowly decompose in landfills, the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling dramatically increases.

The act of practice good recycling habits by “being green” helps to ensure that today’s kids and their offspring may inherit a better world. You can encourage your children to form green habits from an early age with creative ideas for recycling. Here’s a starter kit below!

Recycling for Creativity

One opportunity for teaching children to conserve and recycle is encouraging creative new ways to reuse items before they are thrown away. Children are naturally curious and creative, which allows them to find new methods of reusing plastic, paper and other recyclable materials.

Create art pieces and music instruments with household packaging you might normally recycle. Plastic milk containers cut in half and covered with tape (or an empty coffee tin) can make a great kid’s drum. Add a few beans before sealing and it’s a rhythm shaker.  Or try using magic markers and draw on shredded cardboard pieces. Once colored, glue on a poster board for a colorful collage. Both projects are wonderful expressions of creativity.

For older children, try this projects using recycled materials. Carefully break a few glass jars in a covered bag, the soften the edges of the glass and reassemble with glue into a glass mosaic.

Recycling for Charity

Some children are even taking recycling initiatives to the next level on their own. Sam Klein of St. Louis, MO began his obsession with recycling at 5 years old. That’s when he became interested in recycling and his local garbage pickup service and offered to help to load trucks. Since then, he’s gone on rides in the garbage truck, and even held a birthday party at a local waste management facility.

Now, at age 12, he runs his own recycling businesses from home by sending empty ink cartridges from local businesses back to manufacturers who pay him for the cartridges. He’s earned $1,000 for local charities through his interest in recycling.

Sam’s exploits have helped inspire other local kids and families to take a second look at their own recycling efforts. He’s inspired many in his hometown, and beyond, to go just a step further everyday to help the environment and neighborhoods.

Recycling for Education

With growing concern about water conservation and other eco-centric matters, there is a louder chorus among some parents and teachers for environmental education in our schools. According to The Petition Site, there are currently no national standards in our schools for environmental education.

The volunteers at The Petition Site are working toward a goal of helping schools set up new standards for learning more about the environment, its impact on our society and how to prevent worsening decay of the environment. Proponents believe that standardization will also encourage individual recycling and increased conservation measures.

Recycling literacy starts at home. By practicing good habits at home and explaining them to your children, you’re making recycling a fact of life.


(This article was authored by Melissa Maranto. Melissa studied English at UCLA. She is now a magazine editor who still loves the beach as much as she did as an undergrad.)