Becoming A Recycling Family

While the following post is geared towards those who may not yet recycle consistently with children at home, there are helpful tips for anyone trying to establish a recycling routine!

With all that we have to juggle as parents, sorting our household waste can easily slip to the bottom of our priorities. It can be tempting to pitch all our trash into one bin to save time, despite the benefits of recycling. But if you want to make your home a little greener, here are some tips on how to become informed and make recycling a natural part of your family routine.

Start your recycling efforts with a little preparation!

  1. Take ten minutes to research your best options. With a quick internet search, you can learn about your city’s recycling program. Is curbside pickup available in your area, and will it fit into your family’s budget? Sometimes there are free recycling drop-off bins available. Find what works best for you.
  2. Make sure you know what can be recycled. Once you’ve decided what your best plan is, find a list of what is accepted for recycling. Often, the containers provided by the city will state what they can or cannot take. In one town I lived in, glass could not be recycled curbside, and was only accepted at one drop-off point.
  3. Set up your home disposal zone. Sorting everything in the same area will make your process more efficient, and much more likely to happen! We keep our trash can under the kitchen sink, and a paper bag for recycling right next to it. We stash any plastic grocery bags inside a small box under the sink, too.
  4. Share with your children why recycling is important. You don’t need to wait for Earth Day to come around! Start a conversation based on a short but fun video like this one (it’s great for children ages 2-9, and has a catchy little song that they’ll love!) then ask your children for their help with recycling consistently.

Then do what you can to make recycling fun!

  1. Ask your child to help get items ready. They can break down cardboard boxes. My children love being asked to stomp them flat! For plastic grocery bags, have children stuff as many as possible inside one, tie it shut, and have a quick game of indoor volleyball! Then store the bags where you’ll be sure to remember them: on your front door handle, in the passenger seat of your car, or with your coat.
  2. Show them how to rinse out plastics. Kids love being given age-appropriate responsibilities, and cleaning at the sink can be an exciting place to them! Make sure that your child stands safely if they are using a stool, and save any metal cans or other potentially sharp objects for yourself to clean!
  3. If your state offers small payments for certain cans or glass items, teach your child about this and ask if they want to earn money by collecting! Here’s an inspiring story of one child who turned this into a successful business!
  4. When you take a round of recycling outside, whether for curbside pickup or to a neighborhood recycling bin, show your children how much there is. Thank them for their help in keeping these things out of a landfill, so they can be used in new ways and keep our world a little cleaner!

As you implement your family’s recycling practices, be sure to practice patience. Plastics will occasionally get tossed in the trash (or food scraps into the recycling, yikes!), but having a sense of humor will make such moments into a positive experience. Your family (and the planet!) will thank you for it!

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