How to Teach Your Child About the Importance of Recycling

Kids are, by their very nature, full of questions. “Mom, why does it rain?” “Mom, how does this work?” “Mom, what is this, that, or the other…?”

Although you may not have all of the answers, it’s a great feeling when you explain something to them in a way they can understand – particularly if it’s a complicated question! (We’re thinking, “Why is the sky blue?”)

With that in mind, teaching them about the environment and the importance of recycling is top of any green mom’s agenda, so Enviroco has put together 5 simple ways you can teach your child about the importance of recycling. Before you know it they’ll love the environment just as much as you!

#1 – Waste not, want not

The first step towards teaching your child about the importance of recycling is making it easy for them to understand. Food is a great example. When they sit down to eat, ask them about how much energy has gone into making their food. You can do this in a number of ways.

Where did the food come from? If they say the supermarket, ask them how it got there. Get them them to think about what they are eating and where it came from.

What are they eating? If it comes in a box or packaging, get them to think about what it’s made of. Tell them about how plastic is made and the damage it does.

How much did they eat? If they leave lots on their plate, ask them to think about how where it goes after it’s put in the trashcan…

Finally, if there are leftovers (and with kids there are bound to be) teach them that using up leftovers to create meals is better for the environment (and your bank balance!). If they can see that waste is wasteful with something they can understand, like food, the battle is nearly won.

#2 – Explaining

Explaining greenhouse gases and the build-up of carbon dioxide is certainly a difficult. However, you can go some way towards making them think about it by explaining it in a way they can understand.

Ask them to tell you how they feel when they have been running in the sun. If they say hot and uncomfortable, tell them that’s because they”ve been breathing out a gas called carbon dioxide. But while they can drink water and cool down, the earth can’t do that. The only thing that cools down the earth are green trees. If we cut down trees we stop the earth from getting cool after a day in the sun.

With any luck you’ll see their eyes light up.

#3 – Create fun games

You can help your kids understand recycling by creating a fun games out of it. If they can see that their waste have everyday uses, they’ll be more likely to think before they throw…

Leftover paper makes excellent craft materials – they’ll be more likely to use scrap paper in future

Buy a magnet and get them to find the aluminum cans – if they know aluminum is worth something, they won’t be so quick to throw it away

Make a special compost heap for them to cultivate new plants with eggshells, teabags and banana peel – they’ll learn to love nature

A water-butt in the yard to collect rainwater for watering their new plants shows them they don’t need to always use the tap

If you make it simple for them to see that by throwing something away they lose it for good they’ll be more likely to think before they head to your trashcan.

#4 – Money money money

If you’ve got lots of rooms in your home, your kids are probably little terrors when it comes to leaving lights on, TVs on standby, taps running or windows open.

Explaining where gas and electricity comes from is tricky, so you need to make them think about it in a way they can relate to. Tell them that the longer a light is left on for, the more you will have to pay, come the end of the month. If you have less money you won’t be able to afford things like that new computer game or camping trip. Whatever it is they love, you can be sure that they’ll be more receptive to changing their bad habits.

#5 – Get them online

Your kids are probably more clued-up about how to use the computer than you are. The good news is that there are a whole range of sites out there with fun and interactive games for them to play which will broaden their knowledge of the importance of caring for the environment. Some of the best ones include:

Recycle Roundup on National Geographic Kids
Ollie’s World
Meet The Greens
MyGarbology

So there you have it – five easy ways you can get your kids clued up about the importance of recycling. It doesn’t take much effort, but you can be sure that if they start thinking about their effect on the environment you’ll have set them up for life.