Recycling waste is very important when it comes the maintaining the health of our planet and ecosystem; it can also be one of the easiest ways to reduce our carbon footprint. This is why it is imperative that the parents of young children start their child on a path toward being eco-conscious as soon as possible. By starting good habits at a young age, parents can expect their children to be more Eco-conscious teens and adults.

One of the most difficult aspects about teaching a young child about recycling, however, is the fact that most children will not grasp the basic idea behind the concept of recycling or understand why they should do so. Parents should be sure to use simple language when explaining what recycling is to their children and should be patient and take time to answer any and all questions that their child may have. Parents should take care to explain why recycling is a good thing to do and all of the problems that recycling can reduce.

Some waste management or recycling facilities even offer pamphlets or guided tours specifically aimed at younger children that not only explains but also visually conveys what recycling is and how it’s done. Many schools are also jumping on board and have instituted recycling programs, so teachers can help explain the concept to the child as well.

Some of these programs are volunteer-based so they may invite parents to join in. This can be a great way to not only teach your child to recycle but also spend some quality time with your child. After explaining what recycling is and how it works, parents should begin to point out recyclable materials to their children. They should also teach their children to look at the packaging or labels on items in order to determine whether or not they are recyclable.

Many parents choose to use bins of multiple colours to teach their child how to recycle. This is a great idea, as children respond well to visual stimuli. The first thing to do if you’re subscribing to this method is identify an area of the home to place the bins in. This area should be somewhere safe that the child can easily access. Many parents allow their children to decorate the outside of the bins while others simply place an identifying picture of what sort of waste goes into each bin on the outside.

Many parents who use this method have a tendency to introduce a sort of “mantra” in order to encourage the child to associate a certain colour with a type of material, for example, “blue is plastic, and red is paper”. They could even make a little song out of it to make it more fun. Making it into a game for the child is another good idea. When a child successfully places an item into the correct bin and does a good job in their recycling task, it can be encouraging to “win” a small reward for their good behaviour. Something like a special snack or watching their favourite movie can reinforce good behaviour and make them more likely to continue on their recycling path. Some parents choose to use a chore chart and give the child a reward for earning a certain amount of points or gold stars.

Once the bins are full or recycling day has arrived, show the children where the multi-coloured bins go. Do they go out to the garage? Out on the curb? Do you have to drive them a specific facility? By showing the child the entire process from beginning to end, it gives them a sense of what it actually happening, step by step, even if they don’t exactly understand the entire process. If you have to drive your waste to a recycling facility, take the child along and show them where the waste ends up. You could even choose to introduce them to the staff, if you are so inclined or comfortable enough to do so. This will help to enforce the recycling task as a positive experience.

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