Earth Day is a national holiday celebrated in April to demonstrate support for environmental protection. There are numerous ways we can help take care of our planet. Recycling is just one of them! Let’s take a look at how children can get involved in recycling.
Make it accessible. When I was young my little brother asked for recycling containers for his birthday one year. In our garage, we had a container for cans, plastic, etc. My brother became the recycling “police” in our household. If someone put plastic in the regular garbage can, they knew they would hear from him! Recycling became second nature because it was conveniently located near the kitchen where the most trash was being produced and containers were easily labeled to avoid confusion. If you’re interested in starting to recycle with your child, but want to start simple, allow them to make their own bins out of sturdy cardboard boxes. Paint the outside together and list on the outside of the box the types of items that belong in that recycling bin.
Make it fun. It turns out that you don’t have to do much to make recycling fun for small children. They feel a sense of autonomy and independence as they learn to match the correct item with the bin or container it goes in. Consider having two bins. One for regular recycling and the other for crafting. Add items such as toilet paper rolls, tissue boxes, and egg cartons. These kinds of items can be transformed into tiny telescopes, bongo drums, rockets, and more. Enjoy their excitement as they participate in cleaning up around the house.
Recycling chores. Involve the kids in recycling chores around the house. These could be simple ideas that get kids in the act of helping around the house such as rinsing out recyclable containers or jars, helping to flatten out cardboard boxes, or taking the recycled materials to your designated recycling drop off area if you don’t already have a trash bin for recyclables. Take some time with the change of the seasons to go through old clothes or clothes that don’t fit with your child and take them to a donation drop-off together. These ideas won’t only strengthen your bond with your child, but create lasting habits that will go beyond your home!
In conclusion, recycling doesn’t have to be burdensome. Teaching kids through activity and fun to care for the earth in small ways makes a big difference. Young children have an opportunity to practice fine and gross motor skills through participating in recycling and as they grow they feel a sense of satisfaction and pride in their efforts.