It's easy for parents and teachers to say they're doing everything they can to encourage children to recycle, but if the kids aren't picking it up it's probably because it hasn't been made engaging enough. Whilst telling them why we recycle and how it benefits the planet, as well as the dangers of not recycling, we also need to make the process easy, vibrant and fun so that it becomes second nature on a daily basis.

 

Start them off early

If a child is old enough to clear away their own mess and put something in the bin, they’re old enough to learn about recycling. Make bins accessible and use colours to communicate, such as the blue bin for recyclables and the black bin for general waste. This can be achieved more easily if you have internal bins that use the same colour code as the external bins. Also use simple language, such as “When you’ve finished your apple juice, the plastic bottle goes in the blue bin.” We suggest avoiding giving rewards, but instead give verbal praise or a high five to establish the routine.

 

Show them the natural world

As well as getting some fresh air, good exercise and showing the kids the beauty of the great outdoors, taking them to parks, forests, the seaside and other natural environments gives you an opportunity to demonstrate what recycling achieves. Explain to them in terms they can understand the effect that wasting materials has on the earth, such as chopping down more trees and rivers becoming polluted. This should give them an emotional connection to the cause early on, which they will carry into adulthood.

 

Get creative

Kids are awesome at upcycling without even realising. From cardboard boxes to empty washing up bottles and old string to dead leaves, children use their imaginations to transform everyday objects into all manner of wonderful worlds. Providing that they realise they need to wait until containers are no longer required, they can breathe new life into old newspapers, fabrics and practically anything you can think of.

 

Buy the right bin

We have a huge range of bins for the home, workplace and schools. From simple models to segregated bins and recycling kits, by making them available and straightforward, children will use them without you even having to ask. 

 

Children recycling

Image: The Hacktory