Recycling Facts for Kids: How Much do you Know?
As kids, you might think that grown-ups get to make all of the decisions, but you have a very important job to do. You have to protect the planet so it’s a safe and healthy place to live, not only for yourselves but for future generations too.
There are around 7 billion people living on earth, and as you can imagine, that means a lot of resources like water, wood, energy, and other materials get used, a lot of waste is produced from the food we eat and the things we buy and throw away, and the cars we drive pollute the atmosphere.
All of this has led to global warming, which is a rise in the earth’s temperature. Global warming is causing ice to melt in the polar regions which makes sea levels rise, so more places are at risk of flooding. It also causes extreme weather like hurricanes and droughts, which can damage the crops that are used to produce the food we eat. Global warming is also driving animals from their natural habitats and causing some species to become endangered.
To protect the planet, we need to act quickly, and it all starts with you. One of the simplest ways that you can take care of the planet and protect it for future kids is by recycling.
How much do you know about recycling?
You might have heard your parents talk about it, or a teacher might have spoken about it at school, but how much do you really know about recycling and how important it is? We’ve put together a selection of recycling facts for kids like you, to help you understand what recycling is, how to recycle, and how you can impress your mum and dad and teachers with all your knowledge!
How can recycling help the planet?
In the UK, we produce millions of tonnes of waste at home, from packaging to the food we throw away. The more we throw in the bin; the more precious materials and resources get wasted. Recycling helps us reuse these precious resources and prevents global warming from getting worse.
What exactly is recycling?
Recycling means taking a material like the plastic in a plastic bottle or the metal in a drink can and putting it through a process so the material can be used again instead of being wasted.
But it’s not all about recycling, there are other ways that we can stop wasting so many materials and reuse them again.
Remember this phrase
Remember this phrase: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. These are the ways that you can help to protect the planet. Let’s look at each one in turn.
This means reducing waste by only using what you need. Here are some ideas on how to reduce waste.
- Ask your mum and dad to buy you a reusable water bottle that you can fill up again and again rather than buying a brand new plastic bottle.
- If you take a packed lunch to school, ask if you can have your food and snacks put into resealable containers rather than in plastic packaging.
- If you’re leaving a room and there’s nobody else in it, remember to turn off the light. Make sure you turn off your computer, PlayStation, or other gadgets when you’re not using them. This can help save energy.
- Reuse scrap paper for notes and jotting things down when you’re doing your homework.
- Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth because it saves water.
- Ask your parents if you can walk to school instead of going in the car. Car travel can cause harmful gases to be released into the atmosphere which adds to global warming.
- Tell your family, friends, and everyone else you know about what you’re doing to reduce waste and you might even persuade them to join in!
This means extending the life of something by finding a way to use it again without buying something completely new. Here are some examples of how you can reuse more:
- Remind your parents to take their own shopping bags when you go to the supermarket rather than getting new ones each time you go.
- Ask your mum and dad if you can give your old toys and books to charity, or to someone in the family or a friend.
- Keep jars or plastic containers for storing your things. You can even decorate them and keep them in your bedroom.
- If your parents don’t buy their milk from the milkman, try and persuade them to do so because glass bottles can be more easily returned and reused than plastic containers from the supermarket.
Recycling is all about putting materials in a recycling bin so they can be processed and the precious materials that went into making them can be used to make other new useful things.
- Look at packaging labels to find out whether you can put an item in your recycling bin or not. If you aren’t sure, get your parents to help you check your local council’s website to find out.
- Encourage your parents to have a recycling bin in the kitchen and bathroom (if they don’t already). This will make it easy to keep normal rubbish and the things you can recycle separately.
- Recycle cans, newspapers, plastic bottles, and glass containers whenever you can. Encourage others to do the same.
What are the things we recycle most?
Paper and newspapers
It’s easy to forget that trees are chopped down to make paper and that’s why it’s important that we recycle it. Here are some facts about paper recycling:
- For each tonne of paper that is recycled, around 17 trees are saved
- A recycled newspaper is made into a new newspaper within seven days. All of our newspapers are made from 100% recycled paper. Tell your dad this when he’s reading the sports section!
- In the UK, we recycle almost 70% of the paper we use
- Most toilet paper is made from recycled paper
- Over 70% less air pollution is created by making new paper from recycled paper (rather than making it from raw materials)
- The average family in the UK uses the equivalent of 6 trees worth of paper every year
Drinks cans are made from aluminium which is one of the easiest to recycle materials around. It can be recycled again and again and the quality of the material isn’t affected. Here are some facts about aluminium recycling:
- Recycling just one drinks can save enough energy to power your TV for 3 hours!
- If all of the drinks cans produced in the UK were laid out end to end, they would stretch all the way to the moon three times over!
- 5 billion drinks cans are recycled each year, but 13 billion are produced, so there’s still a lot more to do
We use a huge amount of plastic bottles every day. Plastic water bottles and other drinks bottles are a commonly used and littered item, but we need to recycle all plastic bottles, not just the ones we drink from. Look in your bathroom and you’ll find a lot of plastic bottles that contain the shampoo, body wash, and other products we all use. Here are some facts about plastic bottles:
- Plastic bottles make up a third of all the litter that’s in the sea, causing pollution and harming animals
- In the UK, we use 13 billion plastic bottles each year but we only recycle 7.5 billion so we need to do more
- Plastic bottles make up more than 60% of household plastic packaging plastic bottles
- Every year, more than 5 billion plastic bottles are littered, or they end up in landfill or the incinerator
- Coca-Cola produces around 200,000 plastic bottles every minute which works out at around 500 billion globally!
Glass is a very recyclable material that can be turned into new things, so make sure you and your parents recycle the glass bottles and jars you use. Here are some facts about glass recycling:
- The average family in the UK uses about 330 glass bottles each year. It’s important to recycle them as they can be made into new glass bottles and jars or to make building materials
- In the UK, we recycle around half of the glass containers we use (50%). While this is not bad, some countries like Switzerland recycle almost all of their glass (90%). If you recycle as much glass as you can, you can help the UK catch up!
- Recycled glass is used to make new bottles and jars, material for road surfaces, and the sand you see in the bunkers on golf courses
- An average glass bottle is made up of 25% recycled glass. Green glass bottles are made almost completely from recycled glass
- If you recycle 2 glass bottles, you can save enough energy to power your computer for almost an hour! Recycling just one bottle will power a lightbulb for nearly an hour-we think that’s impressive!
We use a lot of batteries in the average household. How many of your toys and gadgets need batteries? Batteries are very useful, but they contain chemicals which are hazardous, so they need to be properly recycled.
If they are put in the bin, they can end up in landfill where they can leak dangerous chemicals into the soil.
The chemicals and the other resources like precious metals that batteries contain can be used to make new batteries and other useful things, so it’s important to save them by recycling.
Which batteries can be recycled?
All batteries can be recycled including:
AAA and AA batteries (often used in TV remote controls)
Sizes C and D (often used in torches)
Button batteries (used in watches)
Mobile phone batteries
How can batteries be recycled?
Batteries should be taken to a local recycling centre or to a retailer with a collection point. You could suggest that your parents buy a battery bin to collect used batteries for recycling.
Just for fun recycling facts
Hopefully, you’ve learned a lot in this article, but we wanted to round it up with some recycling facts that you can learn to impress your friends, parents, and teachers.
- If you recycle one plastic bottle, you can save enough energy to power a computer for almost half an hour
- Recycling an Aluminum can will save enough energy to power your TV for 3 hours. Plenty of time to watch your favourite family movie together!
- Does your mum or dad wear a fleece jacket? Tell them that you’ve learned that it’s made from at least 25 two-litre plastic bottles!
- A 1-litre cardboard milk carton can be turned into 5 pieces of paper when it’s recycled
Have you been inspired to recycle at home? Together with your family, friends, and teachers, you can make a difference and protect the planet for you, and for future generations.