by Dr. Alan Greene
Are you modeling green living for your children? One family habit that’s easy to get even the youngest toddlers started on the path to an eco-conscious life is recycling. Children who grow up knowing that aluminum cans, glass, plastics, newspapers, magazines, and office paper do not go into the garbage, but instead are reserved for recycling, will surely continue the practice in their own lives as adults.
Here are 6 simple steps to get started!
1. Learn about your local recycling programs by going to Earth 911.org and typing in your ZIP Code. You’ll find out about your city’s official recycling program as well as find information about how and where to recycle car parts, oil, unwanted fuels, vehicles, tires, batteries, electronics, construction materials, and so on.
2. Set up clearly marked recycling bins. If your child can’t read yet, use pictures of the item to help her understand how to sort the materials. Let your children help “decorate” the bins, so they feel a sense of ownership in the effort.
3. Make recycling fun by engaging your child’s imagination. Maybe your house needs a recycling fairy or a recycling police officer? Let your child be the recycling “authority” you can call on whenever a plastic bottle or pile of junk mail needs attending to. (Costumes and accessories are optional, but sometimes very helpful for inspiring engagement!)
4. Make it easy. Keep extra bins around the house to make recycling extra easy. Paper bins are always nice in offices, bathrooms, and even kids’ rooms if they have a lot of homework.
5. Track your waste and recycling. At the end of each week, weigh your trash, paper, aluminum cans, plastic, etc. Record the information and watch how it changes over time. Maybe even make it a family challenge to see how much you can reduce your waste! Set a goal and when you reach it, celebrate with a night at the movies, bowling, or whatever else you collectively decide!
6. Kick it up a notch. Help your child organize a recycling project at his school. It’s an excellent way for him to learn he can make a difference and inspire his community to make greener choices.
Does your family recycle? What are your tips?