It’s absolutely vital for kids growing up in this day and age to learn how to care for the environment. The earlier you can teach them the better, as they will quickly pick up certain skills like empathy, responsibility, and respect. It also teaches them a thing or two about actions having consequences.
It’s great to do what you can at home to teach your toddler or pre-schooler about recycling to create good habits when they start school.
Here are a few tips you can try to teach your toddler a thing or two about recycling:
1. Introduce recycling as early as possible
The earlier your little one learns about recycling the better.
You could try positioning the recycling and compost bins around your kitchen waste area where your toddler can easily see and use them.
Get in the habit of talking to them and telling them what you’re doing each time you recycle or compost. You could play a game so they learn which waste products go in which bin. You could start by laying out the day’s recycling and sorting it together into piles near the correct bin. Try not to lead too much, let your toddler guess and reward them when they get it right.
Your little one will eventually understand what you’re trying to do and will follow your actions. Over time, you can involve them as you’re about to put something in the bin: “Look, a banana peel – where does this go?”
This way they will soon be doing the recycling for you without even asking!
2. Start a competition
This works really well, especially if you have more than one child. You can turn recycling into a fun weekly competition. Set up a bin for each of your toddlers, and create a reward chart for whoever recycles the most of their daily waste. You can choose a reward that the child gets at the end of each week. The main thing is to keep them interested and make it fun!!
3. Lead by example
In your efforts to teach good recycling habits to your kids, it’s important to be a shining example yourself because, well – “monkey see, monkey do” – you see!
When your toddler sees how you’re setting time aside to reduce and separate your house waste, you will subconsciously instill a sense of mindfulness in them. You can establish this in a number of ways, such as:
- Get reusable water bottles for the entire family
- Send ‘e-vites’ instead of invitation cards to birthday parties
- Pack waste-free lunches using washable lunch bags and food wrappings rather than plastic
- Put up a poster or diagram on the fridge which reminds everyone where all the various waste items go
4. Scavenger hunt
Your toddler will love this (actually we know you will too but your secret is safe with us!!).
Have a scavenger hunt in your home by hiding cards representing different kinds of waste, recyclable, compostable and other items to donate in the room.
Divide everyone into groups and start hunting as everybody looks for as many cards as they can find, and when they do, they should sort them into the correct bins.
At the end, review all the cards with your kids and give them a thumbs up for sorting items correctly, as you lovingly explain why each item belongs in a specific bin.
Make it your mission to support Recycle Week this year. The theme is “Together – we recycle” so get involved together with your family and do your bit to protect the future of your children’s’ planet.