Teaching Kids About Recycling

About the author: Viccy Salazar joined EPA in 1995. She works in our Seattle office on waste reduction, resource conservation and stewardship issues.

Recycling is hard. Sometimes I don’t even know what to recycle so when it comes time to talk kids about recycling, where do I start?? Well, I had to teach recycling to a bunch of preschoolers on America Recycles Day, here is what I learned.

Make the rules simple –

  • Cans, paper, boxes, jars, and bottles go in the recycle bin.
  • If it is dirty, clean it or throw it away
  • No Lids, they go in the trash.
  • No food in the recycle bin – even if it is attached to something else.
  • If it is broken – in the trash
  • If it can be used again, use it again or donate it to someone who can.

Practice – When we actually practiced, the kids couldn’t remember what went where until they had tried it a few times.

Expect mistakes – use them as a teaching opportunity.

Relate it to protecting the earth and the animals. The kids really wanted to help out.

Try it out with your kids. It was fun, informative and reminded me what to recycle. How did it work?