Recycle, Setting Up a Child Friendly Routine and System

Recycle, the third R is the one we are all most familiar with.  Everyone recycles a bit, whether it’s your plastic bottles or cardboard boxes.  However there are MANY items most people are unsure if they can recycle or not and they usually just get thrown out.  My biggest tip, when in doubt don’t throw it out.  The recycling center sorts through all our trash and sorts what is recyclable and what is not.  It is better to throw the item into recycling and give it a chance to get recycled rather than throw it in the garbage, ensuring a landfill future.


Children can become very engaged in the recycling process.  I know my daughter is in charge of most of our household recycling. She knows that all paper scraps go in a separate bag that she has access to.  Children often take small responsibilities and internalize them, they become proud of their job and work to do it to the best of their abilities.  This works positively in two ways.  One, they are learning responsibility and to take pride in the jobs they do.  Two, it takes some of the ‘work’ away from the adult and puts it on the child.  I know I personally do not have the time to always be worrying about what recycling goes where so my daughter does it all for me! 

It is easy to set up a system that your children can assume responsibility for, it just takes a little preparation and discussion.  Below is the system I developed in my classroom which I easily implemented in our home.


Teaching Recycling to Children

Before you begin it is important to know which recycling you will be focusing on.  Your trash company usually sends you a list once a year.  We then divide the recycling and trash into three categories.  Green Beany, Blue Boy and Trash Master  I present the trash cans this way to make it more fun and to give the children the concept that the cans are hungry and eating our trash.

Greeny Beany eats paper and cardboard products.

Blue Boy eats plastic and aluminum products.

Trash Master gets everything else (unless you compost).

I make the recycling bins out of paper grocery bags.  We draw the faces onto them and the type of items they eat to help remind all of us what goes where. 

Bin Family.indd

Going through this process once or twice with your children should be enough to get them motivated to take over they whole recycling system.  We keep ours in the garage, however if you don’t have space you can create one recycling area instead of two. 

Recycling is one of the best ways to help the environment.  So fewer natural resources need to be used when we recycle our older items.  It takes very little time and effort but creates a huge difference on our environmental impact.  Please be sure to do your part, one small step creates a big difference in our planet not only for us but for our children and our children’s children as well. 


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