Whether you’re a teacher struggling to integrate recycling into the classroom, or a parent who feels your child’s school could do more, there are plenty of ways to get children more interested in helping the environment. Many schools have included recycle bins in their classrooms, which is great, but there’s more that that can be done to get children involved. We’ve put together a list of ten great recycling activities.

Recycling competition

Starting with an easy one, hold a recycling competition. Whether it’s just for one day, a week, a month or even a year, holding a competition will show how much you can recycle if you focus hard enough on it. You can choose how you want to divide up the teams – perhaps split the class into three or four, compete against other classes or form groups, or even teachers against students. Introduce special recycling bins into the classrooms and add up the total at the end of the contest.

Create a prize bag of recycled items

Encourage students and parents to bring in unused items lying around the house – kid’s meal toys, freebies from work, unwanted Christmas stocking-filler-type toys – and then use these items as rewards in class. Although they were originally unwanted, creating a trophy element around these toys and freebies makes them a lot more fun to win.

Multiply your recycling bins

Many classrooms have more rubbish bins than recycling bins, so try to reverse it. Having one small rubbish bin and several recycling bins will be strange for students at first, but they’ll learn fast and it will be a lesson they remember forever.

Decorate your recycling bins

We all miss those days when we would use glitter pen on literally everything, so we should try and encourage the same behaviour in the children of today. Get out those glue sticks, scrap paper and coloured pens and decorate some recycling bins. This’ll be a fun activity to get children that bit more involved in the recycling process.

Partner with a community group or centre

Check with community organisations to see if they want to partner with your school in your recycling efforts. Through this you can create community connections, partnering your school with all kinds of great networks across the community. Do this and you can reach all of your recycling goals faster.

Upcycle plastic containers

Challenge your students to bring in any odd plastic container from home with the goal to upcycle it for the classroom. A plastic bottle can be decorated to become a vase, a yoghurt pot can become a crayon holder, and old plastic Tupperware containers can pretty much hold anything. If you get enough plastic donated, you can spend an afternoon decorating and building all kinds of toys or useful equipment, either for the classroom or to take home.

Challenge students to a recycling art challenge

It’s time to get creative. Collect lots of recycled material (maybe leftovers from the upcycled collection) and dedicate some activity time for the children to create something wonderful. Encourage students to bring materials from home, and show them how much you can do with recycled products.

Beautify your school or neighbourhood

A great way to encourage children to take pride in their neighbourhood or school is to organise a clean-up afternoon. Using gloves and bin bags, the children can go around picking up rubbish from the area and then sorting it into their designated recycling piles. This must be organised by a professional to ensure health and safety regulations are adhered to at all times.

Plant a garden or a tree

Gardening is a great hobby for kids to learn at school because it gives back for many years to come. Dedicate some time each week to teaching kids how to properly tend to a tree or garden, and you could even turn it into a recycling project. Collecting seeds, pods and nuts with the children so they can take them home means they can plant miniature gardens of their own.

Make a PSA about recycling

In an era where we are so connected with media, use it to the children’s advantage. Assign the kids into groups and get them to research recycling and how to deliver public service announcements (PSA). Not everyone has to be front and centre, if someone is camera-shy you can assign roles such as writers or directors. Once they’ve delivered their PSAs, edit the footage and send it out to parents to share it on social media if they wish, or show it to friends.

Share your successes

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list, and have been inspired by at least one or two of the recycling activities. There is plenty of information online for sharing ideas, or even lesson plans which revolve around recycling – so if you’re ever stuck for ideas, or you want to show off how great your kids have done, go check online. And remember, getting the children involved with recycling will ensure a more responsible attitude towards the environment for generations to come.

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