Earth Day is about green living and environmentalism which are good activities to practice. But to make them habits requires daily practice. If you want to teach children good habits, you must provide opportunities to practice them. Here are easy family recycling habits to teach children environmentalism, Earth Day awareness of earth’s natural resources and green living.
* Make green living convenient. One of the biggest complaints about family recycling is that it takes extra work. So parents, make it easy for children to recycle trash instead of throwing it away. Put the recycle bin next to the trash can. Set up four containers to sort recycle bin– a paper bag for paper products, a plastic bag for plastic recyclables, a box for glass and another for metal.
* Set a good green living example to teach children good habits. Children learn environmentalism (as they do everything) by imitation. Let children see you take a moment and rinse out plastic containers, glass jars and cans and drop them in the bin. Kids will find this extra step a nuisance. Let’s face it–tossing garbage is a lot easier than recycling it. But in time, it will pay off and you’ll notice the family recycling more routinely.
* Collaborate. If kids learn good habits more quickly seeing one parent do something, seeing both parents do it really ups the odds. When both parents get on board with family recycling, kids will join in. If your spouse is more into it than you, at least be supportive. Don’t nag or complain. Try to get involved in green living a little more. Celebrate Earth Day by counting how much trash you recycled and how much landfill space you saved!
* Make family recycling a chore payable by allowance. Don’t pay kids to recycle but do pay them to organize recycle bin, collapse cardboard, remove labels, cut up large pieces of plastic, stack cans inside each other and get recycling curb-ready. These make great chores, Earth Day lessons and environmentalism awareness activities for young kids.
* Teach children why you recycle. Teach children about landfills, greenhouse gasses, pollution, decomposition and what happens to different kinds of trash. Teach children how garbage harms animals, plants and humans. Know your city’s recycling policies. Each community does it a little differently. Post a list of what can be recycled and what can’t near the family recycling station.
* Think outside the recycle bin. Put a box on the front porch for discarded things that can’t be recycled or that still have value. Such items include shoes, clothing, books, movies, housewares, small appliances, accessories and electronics. Pay it forward and donate these items to a thrift store and get a receipt for tax deductions. Donating is a form of family recycling and green living, too.
* Recycle throughout the house. Just as you have wastebaskets in every room, you should also put a box for recycled papers, packaging, containers and scraps. Once a week, have kids empty their boxes into the main recycle bin. Teach kids to think environmentalism in every area of life.
* Encourage good family recycling habits but don’t nag. Practice recycling, but don’t be militant about it. Better to sacrifice something to the trash can occasionally than to make everyone (including yourself) miserable about one discarded milk jug. Praising kids when they do recycle works better than haranguing for what they miss.
May Earth Day be every day!