RecycleThere are many ways in which we can teach our kids to recycle. By getting children involved in the process of recycling they are more likely to understand how recycling works and why it is so important. The main factors are to teach kids to reduce, re-use and of course recycle; reduce the use of items that are affecting the ecosystem- like paper, re-use items in creative ways as much as possible, and recycle what can no longer be used so that it can be turned in to reusable materials!
Before we can teach our kids to recycle we must first share with them why recycling is so important. Let your children know that recycling helps the Earth in many ways; it saves natural resources and animal habitat and results in less air and water pollution. Begin by sharing the below facts with your kids so they can better understand why recycling is such an important tool in protecting the earth and to see how wasteful both kids and adults can be by not recycling.

Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 trees, 2 barrels of oil (enough to run the average car for 1,260 miles), 4,100 kilowatts of energy (enough power for the average home for 6 months), 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space, and 60 pounds of air pollution. Trash to Cash

Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every 3 months. Environmental Defense Fund

About 80% of what Americans throw away is recyclable, yet our recycling rate is just 28%. Environmental Protection Agency

Recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to operate a TV for 3 hours. Eco-Cycle If we recycled all of the newspapers printed in the U.S. on a typical Sunday, we would save 550,000 trees--or about 26 million trees per year. California Department of Conservation

If every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of 1,000 sheet virgin fiber bathroom tissues with 100% recycled ones, we could save: 373,000 trees, 1.48 million cubic feet of landfill space, and 155 million gallons of water. Seventh Generation

Below are a few creative ways to teach your kids about recycling and get them involved in the recycling process.

Let them be in Charge of The Recycling at HomeA great, creative way to teach our kids about recycling is to allow them to be involved. Let them make signs for the containers that recyclable materials will go into. Bins for plastic, glass, paper, and electronics are a great place to start. My oldest daughter loved being in charge of recycling the plastics because we let her keep the money she earned when we took it to the recycling center. Kids love hands on activities so this is a great way to get them involved in recycling.
Teach Kids about Recycling Through Games
One really creative way to teach kids about recycling is through games. You could go through the house and have them pick out items that they think could be recycled and then go through the items to see what they came up with, they may be surprised to find how many items are actually recyclable. The National Geographic, as well as many other great sites, offers an online game about recycling calling Recycle Roundup, this is another creative way to teach kids about recycling.

Creative Ways to Reuse Paper
One great way to teach our kids to recycle is by using paper that we would normally throw away in creative ways. Many kids, and adults, will scribble or write a word or two on a paper and then toss it in the trash! Instead try: using it as scratch paper, using both side's front and back. Use old magazines and news paper for art projects, or to wrap stored items. No matter what when kids are done with paper goods teach them to put these items into the recycle bin.

Reuse Plastic Containers, Zip Lock Baggies, and other Household Items
We can teach our kids many creative ways to recycle common everyday items like old plastic containers and zip lock baggies. Most commonly they can be used as storage. Have your kids come up with some creative ideas of what these and other household items, like coffee cans, can be used for. Zip lock baggies are great for small items such as paper clips, small toy parts, baseball cards, etc… Plastic containers can be used to pour paint in when the kids play, coffee cans can be decorated and used as pencil holders. This morning I gave my 4 year old the empty coffee can to keep all of her little Barbie pieces in and she loved it! We can teach our kids that there are tons of fun and creative ideas for recycling these types of items. Allowing your children to come up with some of their own makes the recycling fun and meaningful!

Donate Old Books
Teach you kids to recycle their old books by donating them to the library, the Goodwill, or even to their classroom at school.

Recycle Clothes and Toys
Teach your children that their old clothing and toys can also be recycled. The longer it is used the less waste there will be. Clothes and toys can be taken to the Goodwill or given to a local church or charity. This is not only a great way to teach kids about recycling but also to teach them that they are not only helping the earth but also helping others by donating their old clothes. Other creative ways to teach our kids to recycle clothes could be to cut them up and make purses, blankets, or capes out of them.

Recycle Electronics and Batteries
Nowadays it is possible to recycle pretty much anything! Teach your children about items that can be recycled that they may not know about. Computers, ink cartridges, cell phones, and many more electronics can all be donated. Usually, cities will hold a day where your recycled electronics can be dropped off at a given place so check with your local city authorities. Also teach you kids that batteries from their toys and such can be recycled. Batteries can be taken into any Batteries Plus store to be recycled, as they are not allowed to be thrown into the trash.

Lead by Example
The best way to teach our children about recycling is to set a good example; buy recycled items, bring your own bags to the grocery store, show that you to want to take care of the earth by recycling.

By teaching our children about recycling we are teaching them how important it is to keep our earth safe and clean and that anyone young or old can make a difference. Hopefully by teaching them the importance of recycling at such a young age they will continue to do their part in protecting the Earth throughout life.