Teaching Your Young Child to Recycle

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there were 89 million tons of waste recycled and composted in 2014, which resulted in “an annual reduction of over 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, comparable to the annual emissions from over 38 million passenger cars.” These reduced emissions are just one of the benefits of regular recycling, and today it’s easier than ever to get the entire family involved.

Here are some ways you can teach your young child to recycle.

Read books about recycling

Many parents want to talk to their children about recycling, but aren’t sure how to explain it in a way they’ll understand. There are many children’s books available that discuss recycling in an engaging, age-appropriate way. Try these books about recycling for children:

Make recycling fun

Parents know that the attention spans of young children are short. To help your children get involved with recycling, find ways to make the process fun for them. For example, you may want to create your own recycling bins which your child can decorate. Pictures of the sorts of items that go in each bin will help make it easy for your child to sort paper, plastic, and aluminum. Not only is this a fun activity that will help your child express their creativity, it will also give them a sense of ownership in the recycling process.

Visit a recycling center

Many children have trouble visualizing a large and complicated process such as recycling. If possible, take the family and tour your local recycling center. This will help your child understand exactly how recycling works, and it is a perfect time for them to ask questions of people who work there. Many recycling centers also offer family volunteering opportunities, as well.

Investigate recycling opportunities in your child’s preschool

Visit your child’s preschool and see how they approach recycling. Is it a process that is limited to the adults only, or do the children get involved, as well? Many preschools offer forms of community service as part of their philosophy and educational approach. Discuss the possibility of your child’s preschool forming a partnership with a local recycling center or volunteer organization.

Regular exposure to the concept and importance of recycling can go a long way in helping your child learn more. Reading books about recycling, getting your child more involved, visiting a local facility, and working with your child’s preschool will all help your child to adopt recycling as a regular habit.