Five creative ways to teach children to recycle

Sustainability has never been so important, and with the children of today playing a crucial role in the future of our planet, it’s essential that they are taught how they can preserve it.

Recycling is one of the top ways they can get involved personally to protect our wildlife and the environment, and it doesn’t have to be hard. While topics surrounding environmental issues can be quite heavy to discuss with children, there are fun approaches you can take to get them involved.

Here are a few creative ways you can teach them about recycling, reducing waste and giving their old items a second lease of life. 

1) Turn rubbish into an art project 

When it comes to art, pretty much anything goes. So why not encourage the kids to get creative by collecting items that are destined for the bin, and produce their very own masterpiece? They could use anything from old cereal boxes and milk containers to bottle lids and crisp packets, and they can cut, stick and colour to their hearts’ content.

It’s the perfect way to teach them about the value of reusing items, as this can be even more helpful than sending them to be recycled. Artist Roy Tyson recently created an amazing miniature allotment scene using sustainable items from around the home, which proves you really can achieve great things with ‘rubbish.’ 

2) Use egg cartons to grow things in 

Kill two birds with one stone and teach the children about reusing old items and growing their own produce by turning old egg boxes and other containers into planters. Egg cartons are particularly good for the job, as they’re already divided into little cups, ready for potting soil.

All you need to do is poke a few small drainage holes in the bottom, before filling with soil and planting your seeds. You can grow all sorts of things in a makeshift planter, including herbs and even vegetable seedlings which can later be moved into a flowerbed to finish their growth. 

3) Make a game of it 

Learning how to recycle and reuse doesn’t need to be boring; turn it into a game instead. There are lots of ways you can go about this if you’re feeling imaginative and you could even get the kids involved in thinking up ideas themselves.

Why not try a simple game of guess which bin each item goes into, or even turning the rubbish items into the game itself, such as using bottle caps as counters, cutting up cereal boxes into puzzle pieces or throwing balls into old containers? There are also games available online that teach kids about recycling and sustainability. 

4) Hold a toys and clothes swap

Nothing will teach children the truth in the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” more than holding a toys and clothes swap. This will give them the opportunity to bring in any of their old toys and clothes that they no longer wear or play with, for one of their peers to take home and enjoy themselves. It also gives them the chance to go home with some exciting second-hand items, which will feel as good as new in their eyes. 

5) Go litter picking 

Picking up rubbish may not sound exciting but getting out and about around the local area could be lots of fun for the kids and it means they’re doing their bit for the community, too. You could even brand it as a “scavenger hunt” to make it sound like more of a game.

Head to a local park or green space and set a competition about who can collect the most items of waste and identify the correct bins for each one. Just make sure you provide them with instructions about what to collect and what not to touch, to ensure their safety.

There are many other ways you can teach children about the importance of recycling, reducing and reusing, and how they can get involved themselves. Hopefully these tips have provided you with some inspiration about where to start, and kids can start creating good habits and practices to go forward with.  

Photo by Sergiu Vălenaș