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How to Teach Children About Recycling

Nov 13, 2023

Nov 13, 2023


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As Whitney once sang, “I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” When it comes to recycling and waste reduction, never a truer word was spoken (or sung, for that matter). It is incredibly important for us to teach our children about recycling and sustainability from a young age. Helping them to grasp issues such as resource availability, recycling, and reducing waste could have a huge impact on the future of the planet.

By involving children in recycling practices, we can create a positive impact on the environment and also foster a sense of responsibility and empathy towards the world they inhabit. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of getting children involved in recycling, offer top tips for reducing waste, suggest fun ways to make recycling engaging, and share some recycling games and craft activities too.

Why is recycling important for kids?

There are a host of benefits to getting kids involved in recycling, including:

Environmental awareness

Teaching children about recycling helps them understand the impact of waste on the environment and the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations.

Environmental responsibility

By involving kids in recycling, we cultivate a sense of responsibility and ownership, encouraging them to take care of the planet. This can help them to make environmentally-friendly choices throughout their lives.

Encouraging critical thinking

Sorting recyclables challenges children to think critically and understand the differences between materials – a great science topic!

Top tips for teaching children about reducing waste

Teaching kids the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra

The three Rs of waste management are relatively easy to explain to children. Reducing is simply cutting back on the amount of rubbish we produce; reusing is finding a new way to use our rubbish rather than throwing it away; recycling is processing rubbish to make new things that can be resold.

Educate kids about single-use plastics

This is one that can easily be built into everyday life, as there are sadly still so many examples of single-use packaging. Start by having a conversation about why it is important to use reusable water bottles, lunch containers, and shopping bags. This could also extend to involving children in making more eco-friendly shopping decisions, opting for products with minimal packaging and those made from eco-friendly materials, rather than those packaged in plastic.

Talk to kids about reuse, or upcycling

Explore the art of upcycling, where old or discarded items are transformed into new, useful objects, reducing waste and sparking creativity. As well as some of the crafty ideas below, a trip to your local charity shop could help them to grasp the importance of reuse.

Foster a sense of wonder in our planet

Kids who love nature and spending time in the great outdoors may have a stronger understanding of why protecting their environment is so important. Our recent Forest School blog highlights some of the benefits of outdoor activities for kids – explore our activities finder page for activities for kids near to you.

How to make recycling fun

Recycling games for kids:

Recycling activities for kids:

If your kids enjoy these craft activities, then have a browse through our arts and crafts activities finder to locate fun activities for kids close to home.

Recycling facts for kids

While the games and activities above are a great way to engage kids in learning about recycling, there are some pretty amazing facts out there which can capture children’s imagination! The Business Waste website and The Recycling Partnership have some great recycling facts for kids, including:

The benefits of teaching kids about recycling go beyond reducing waste; it helps to instil values of empathy, responsibility, and creativity in children – and is a great way to expand their knowledge of science and the environment.

With simple tips, fun activities, and craft ideas to repurpose recycling materials, we can make the learning process enjoyable and impactful for young minds.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, or are looking for more top tips on introducing the topic of sustainability to your little eco-warriors, check out our Earth Day blog. Alternatively, pop your postcode into our activities page for a whole host of activities for kids in your local area.