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Recycling With Your Children (For Their Own Sake)

Posted May 07 2013 6:38am

Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this article

We all want to see our children enjoy themselves, but our planet is on a perilous path. While there are many ways for you to help, the easiest and most effective way to reverse this, is by teaching our children the various ways we can help make a difference and it all starts with a bit of “greening” in our day to day lives.

Recycling is one of the largest green efforts around and is widely available in many communities. What we teach at home creates positive habits in our day-to-day lives and these habits rub off on our children. Here are a few simple steps to lead your children down the right path.

Make room- Create a space in your home that holds recycling bins. Have a separate one for every type of recyclable. If you don’t have any, grab some coupons at NerdWallet and pick them up at a discounted rate online. Let your child help pick out the colors of the bins. For younger children, you can even put pictures on the bins as this will help them recognize what goes where.

Incentivize- Reward them for cleaning up as you would normally (a sticker chart or something of the sort), and add a little extra incentive if they help you to sort recyclable materials.

Educate- When you are out shopping with your kids, make sure to point out what items have been recycled. Teach them to read the labels so they are more aware. Purchasing items that have been recycled will show them the value in your lessons and many of these items can even be recycled again.

Recycle naturally- Have your child help you in the garden. While growing your own vegetables, you are teaching your children a lot about health, wellness, and savings. This also produces less waste in packaging. Composting the scraps will show them exactly what it means to be environmentally friendly as well as giving you some great, free fertilizer.

Visualize- Children learn best through visual stimulation. You can recommend your child’s next field trip be to the local recycling center. They will learn about all the materials and processes.  Field trips are a great way to get children excited about recycling and they may even be able to teach you something new.

Start a trend- Many schools are interested in recycling but have difficulty establishing their own system. Work with the staff on organizing activities to encourage recycling. It will require some leg work to get it started but will have enormous effects. Many schools also feature small gardens. Your school may be interested in both recycling and composting, both of which teach children about re-using discarded items. Discuss the importance of these programs with other parents and ask your child to help you to encourage their peers.

Electronics count too- Recycling doesn’t end with packaging or food. Technology is great, but electronics end up in landfills at the end of their life, just like any other product. E-waste is an ever-growing concern. When your electronics have reached their untimely death, take them to a specialized recycling facility with a focus on reducing e-waste. When it comes time to replace it, make sure it’s an energy-efficient device. When I recycled my last laptop, I purchased a new one with an Alienware coupon that used less than half the power. Upgrading electronics for the sake of upgrading doesn’t reduce their environmental impact, but if you find yourself in need, find something a bit more energy efficient where possible.

It is not enough to simply preach the importance; you must lead by example and participate in green activities. By doing so, you will instill the necessity and they will carry that with them through their lives. Helping out around the house and in the community are all valuable lessons.

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