How to get kids recycling

Plastic now inhabits every corner of the world and has even been found floating around the Arctic. The more we can all do to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill or in our oceans, the better.

If you’ve got small children, sorting out your recycling can seem like an impossible task – but the good news is that it’s something you can get the whole family involved in.

Here are some ideas to help you make recycling part of your family’s routine…


1. Make it easy

Do everything you can to take the effort out of doing the right thing. Make sure your household bins are easily accessible, and help everyone identify them by colour matching them with the outdoor bins. Children love being given responsibility – assigning them a recycling duty like collecting paper will make them feel really grown-up and important. Learn more about encouraging kids to help at home.


Try this: personalise your bins using words and pictures to help children remember what each one is for.


2. Be Resourceful

Get creative and encourage children to find other uses for recyclable materials. Making your own musical instruments is always a winner, especially as they’re something you’ll use again and again.

You and your child can make your own music shakers, just like they do in Junk Rescue! All you need is a kitchen roll tube, paper and sticky tape.


Try this: if shakers aren't your thing, use old cans and balloons to make small drums. Simply stretch a balloon over the top of an empty can and use the pencil ends as sticks. Be sure to stretch the balloon out as much as possible to get the best drum sound!


3. Learn Together

It’s likely that sustainability will be a big part of all our futures, so helping little ones to understand the importance of recycling will set them up for life.

Talk together about why we recycle and think about things like “Where has the recycling lorry driven away to?” “What happens to all the plastics?” or “Why are the bins different colours?” Don’t worry if you don’t know all the answers – finding out together will help you both to be mindful of waste, just like Logan in this clip.


Try this: go behind the scenes and visit a recycling centre. You can explore why and how we recycle and take away some top tips for your family. Go online to find your nearest centre and book a trip.


4. Make a game of it

Recycling doesn’t need to be boring! There are lots of ways to make it fun for the whole family. You could create a game (such as ‘guess which bin this goes in’), make a picture out of recycled materials, or even pretend to be dinosaurs while you stomp on your cardboard recycling!


Try this: collect old bottle caps and make this fun matching game from Junk Rescue.


5. Reward Yourselves

Set up a family reward chart and decide on a treat for everyone to enjoy when you’ve collected a certain amount of recyclable items – or make it a competition between family members.

You could even try and go a whole day without throwing something in the bin. Whoever generates the least amount of waste wins!


Try this: make a sensory board to hang in the kitchen to show different types of recyclable items. This will help to remind children what each recycled object looks and feels like, and prompt the whole family to recycle correctly. 

Find more ideas for creative upcycling from Junk Rescue.

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