Here are some simple ways we can teach young ones (and ourselves) to help Mother Earth and begin to decrease our human footprints so our children and grandchildren have an Earth they can call home.
10 Ways to Teach Children To Recycle
It is vital to our future to include the children in our efforts to protect and restore the environment. The best way to teach children and encourage them to make environmental awareness a way of life for them, is to make it fun. Teach them the four R’s of the Environment… Reduce, Reuse, Reinvent, Recycle… and our world will be the better for it. We all recognize that learning when we are younger is easier, so raise good recyclers and start teaching the 3 R’s today.
Start a recycling program at pre-school or grade school with the participation of the school. When you have the support of the school it can become an immediate group effort and everyone can pitch in and see real results. Set a goal for the money gained by turning in bottles and cans and host an ice cream social or other fun activity.
At home: Make Garbage/Recycling day a fun Family thing to do. When preparing a meal, why not ask your children to help you sort out which pieces they can put in their compost bin? Vegetable and fruit peelings are great. You can find good CDs to reinforce the recycle message at cdbaby.com – search on “recycleman.” So get toe-tapping and enjoy the three R’s every step of the way!
Find ways to recycle old things into new things, make projects out of them. Remember the dried macaroni necklaces we use to make? Many great things were “invented” out of reinventing an old item into something new and beautiful. Turn empty plastic milk jugs into birdfeeders. Cut out a large section of one side, about 1 1/2" up from the bottom of the jug. A stick can be inserted into a hole below the opening (for a perch) and a string run through 2 holes in the top (to hang the feeder).
Create a poster illustrating the recycling symbols. Post your poster in the garage or wherever you keep your recycles and make it a game with rewards for the kids, to see who knows the symbols best.
Create art day at the house, challenge the kids to make art out of something old instead of throwing it away. The best way to reach kids about recycling and reuse is through craft activities. Creating butterflies, flowers and even whole cities out of recycled materials, ranging from cereal boxes to old compact discs gets them thinking of “trash” in a whole new and exciting way they can relate to.
As a fundraising project for school, collect old cell phones with the kids and then sell them to a reseller. Check out Greenphone.com who pays you for all of your working mobile devices. And since they ALL have toxic materials in them, you are helping Planet Earth in the process. Another great use of old cell phones is the Call to Protect program which helps domestic violence victims – check out NCADV.org for more information.
Next time you buy new electronics, start a neighborhood “Recycle Your Electronics Drive.” Check myGreenElectronics they can help you find electronics recyclers in your area and they also provide many other FAQ information for using your electronics and environmental education.
Have kids count how many paper towels are used in a day at home, challenge them to find ways to reduce the consumption. Paper towels are a habit we’ve been sold by paper towel manufacturers. Sponges, dish rags and dish towels make perfectly sanitary and capable replacements and what else is one to do with your old t-shirts anyhow?
Start a compost bin in the garden; teach them the benefits of composting. Composting teaches very valuable lessons to children. They learn to recycle and reuse materials in an earth-friendly activity. It also involves dirt, digging, and water--favorite children's activities. You can find more valuable composting information at EdibleNature.com in the Edible Email Newsletter link.
Start a new Habit: “Cross the door, Flick the Switch.” Meaning if you’re leaving the room, turn off the lights (and all other electronic devices –televisions, stereos, ipods and computers too). A normal bulb will use 60 watts of energy an hour, meaning that you could conserve nearly 22,000 watts of energy per year by just switching off one bulb for one hour every day. That’s enough energy to power one months’ worth of evening TV viewing!
Kids enjoy helping out and contributing to the family. To involve them more in earth-friendly activities have them take the compost bucket out to the compost bin or make them in charge of the reusable shopping bags each time you go to the grocery store. Take small opportunities like these to teach the big messages about protecting our plant. Empowering our little ones to be proactive in the environment is the easy part; often times it is us grown-ups that don’t want to take the initiative to change because WE (not the children) are too set in our ways. But aren’t our future generations worth a little extra effort? We think so too.