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4 Ways to Teach Your Young Kids About Recycling

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As landfills throughout Canada start to fill up, and land for new ones diminishes, the focus on increasing residential recycling efforts becomes more important than ever. The best way to create a world full of dedicated recyclers is to teach the next generation to take this matter into their own hands. Your kids and their peers can lead the recycling movement with just a little bit of education and training. Once kids master recycling, they will even turn toward the adults in their lives to help them sort waste properly and recycle as much as possible. Here are four ways to help your kids learn about this important task.

Discuss Plastic Differences

The most difficult part of learning how to recycle is the process of differentiating between the seven types of plastic. Luckily, each plastic material is clearly marked with a number encircled by a recycling symbol.

Recyclable plastics, numbered one, two and five, are thick materials commonly used for food and drink containers. You should teach your kids to clean out these containers and throw them in the recycling bin.

The lighter, non-recyclable plastics are numbered two, three and six. These plastics need to go in the garbage can only. Plastic number seven is constructed out of compostable materials, so kids can throw these in the garbage can or compost bin.

Create a Poster Board

The machinery at each recycling plant determines its ability to process specific materials. The accepted materials list is usually mailed out yearly to all residents in the service area. You can help your kids memorize this list by creating a poster board for all to use while sorting waste at your home.

Give your kids magazines to search for container examples to cut out and glue on the poster board. If your kids cannot find appropriate cutouts, use a piece of a plastic container, bottle cap or label as the example. Include the various types of plastic accepted by your recycling company. Make sure to help your kids label each example.  If your area uses separate recycling bins, your kids can create smaller example boards to hang above each one.

Handle Sorting Together

Help your kids work through the recycling process by sorting waste together at first. You may need to help your kids throw out food waste, wash the containers and find the appropriate bin. Beyond this basic task, your children will likely need help learning and understanding the specific recycling regulations for your area.

When processing metal containers, for example, it is often important to throw out the sharp lids and avoid crushing the sides of the cans. For plastic caps, your kids should learn to screw them onto the empty bottle before placing the entire container in the recycling bin.

Since these guidelines vary from plant to plant, it is important to check your local regulations before going through the sorting process with your children. Once your kids learn how to complete this important task, it can become one of their daily chores around the house.

Tour a Recycling Plant

You can help your kids understand the fruits of their labor by visiting a local recycling plant. These plants often hold public tours for individuals and groups. You will need to sign up ahead of time to schedule your guided tour. At the plant, you will see the sorting and processing tasks completed by the workers using heavy machinery.

If you cannot visit a plant in person, consider watching videos of other kids visiting the recycling plants in their own neighborhoods. As kids work through the sorting process at home, they will reflect on the tasks completed in the recycling plant to bring the lessons full circle. Contact companies like Recycle-It Resource Recovery Brampton to learn more. 

Continue the Lessons

While focusing on teaching your kids how to recycle, take some time to discuss the benefits of diverting waste away from the growing landfills. Your children will surely love to learn how their efforts will help protect their environment well into the future. In no time, you may even have a chance to see your children sharing these recycling lessons with others who are uncertain about the local sorting rules.