I persuaded my daughter to give away two toys in celebration of her half-birthday. She donated a stuffed bear and lamb to Goodwill.

3 Ways to Teach the Importance of Recycling to Children

Modern society has created a world based on convenience, which has increased the amount of waste that is created from paper, plastic, and other material. Waste is becoming an issue that’s hard to ignore, with large garbage patches floating in the Pacific Oceans, and animals being harmed by trash. This is why it’s important to teach children about environmental friendly practices, such as recycling, so that the future generations can have respect for the planet, and help reverse the trend of waste. Here are three ways to teach children the importance of recycling.

Educate them.

This is the most important thing you can do to teach the importance of recycling to children. If they don’t know what is going on, then they will be less likely to care or take action. Teach them about the planet and it’s inhabitants, about ecosystems and plant life, and how waste and pollution can destroy these things. Take them to public parks or other areas where there is litter, and explain how this can make animals sick if they eat them, or hurt if they get caught in plastic or other waste.

Teach them about recycling, and how it works. Take a trip to a recycling factory and let them see the process. Show them examples of things that are made from recycled material. You can also take them to a dump or landfill, where they will see firsthand how much stuff people waste and throw away, which just accumulates into giant piles. It may be unflattering to the senses, but could be an effective way to get the point across.

Make it fun.

Since educating them on this subject can be serious and somewhat sobering, you can keep it light by showing them creative ways to recycle. Do some research and find fun ways to use trash for arts, crafts, and building things. Some examples of this are using egg cartons for planting seeds or for organizational trays, paper towel and toilet paper rolls for creating binoculars or instruments, and empty jars for snow globes or other projects. Show them that with a little imagination, recycling can be fun and easy.

Be a role model.

It’s hard to try to instill values in a small child if you are not practicing what you preach. So be a recycling role model for everyone. Instead of throwing out things after a few uses, learn to up-cycle old clothing, or donate to charity. Use your electronics for a few years before replacing, instead of rushing out to grab the latest model. Set up recycle bins in your home with labels for paper, plastic, and cans, and follow through with dividing up trash so that you reduce waste in your home. Make it part of the family’s routine, so your children will see that it’s important to you. This will make them more eager to understand and join you in recycling and helping preserve the planet.