A Kid's Guide to Recycling Fun

What is Recycling?

Recycling means taking something that's already been used, that we might think of as trash, and turning it into something else to be used again. Recycling is a part of the 3 R's. The 3 R's are different ways we can take our trash and use it differently, instead of throwing it away. We do this to help keep the environment safe. The first two R's are Reduce and Reuse. Reducing means using less of resources that are limited, like water. One way to practice reducing is to turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth instead of letting the water run. Reusing is when you take something you've already used and use it again. One way to reuse something is to rinse out a pasta sauce jar (after it's empty) and put something else in it, like crayons.

Why Is Recycling Important?

Recycling is important because it helps to keep the planet safe and healthy. When items that can be recycled, like plastic, get put in the trash they end up in landfills or the ocean. Landfills are big areas filled with trash. Some trash, like apple cores or banana peels, is organic. Organic trash is trash that comes from things in nature. This trash wont hurt the environment. But other trash, like plastic and cardboard, is inorganic. This means it doesn't come from nature. Inorganic trash sits in landfills and breaks down very slowly. Inorganic trash often has chemicals in it that can harm the earth. Sometimes the trash in landfills gets burned and the chemicals go into the air.  Then, the chemicals in the air get washed into the ground when it rains. Sometimes trash makes its way into the oceans and rivers. If trash gets into the water it can hurt animals or make them sick, especially if they try to eat it. When trash ends up in the ocean or chemicals from burned trash end up in the air it's called pollution. Pollution is when inorganic things get put into the environment and hurt the Earth and its creatures, including us. That's why it's important to recycle when we can, to help keep the earth pollution free.

Recycling can also be a good way to earn a little bit of money while helping to keep the earth safe. You can collect all the plastic and glass containers you use in your house and take them to the grocery store. Most grocery stores have a bottle return station. Sometimes the bottles aren't worth money, but usually you can earn a few cents for each bottle you turn in. Recycling programs also help create jobs for adults. Not all recyclables can go to the same place. Paper, plastic, and cardboard get recycled in different ways. So, it's important to have workers who will sort the recyclables and make sure they go to the right places.

How Can Kids Help Recycle?

You can help recycle at home and at school. Most schools have recycling bins in classrooms or the cafeteria. One class you can definitely recycle in is art class. Scrap paper left over from a project can be used again in a collage or put into the recycling bin to get sent off and turned into new paper. You can use other recyclables in art class, like cardboard, to make other projects. You can also recycle at lunch. When you're done with your juice bottle, water bottle, or milk carton put them into the recycling bin so they can be washed and made into new things. You can also recycle by taking things you find at home that are empty and using them to make new things. Plastic bottles, glass jars, and cardboard are all easy to use again. A third way to recycle is to clean up your local playground. When you're at the park and see bottles or other recyclables on the ground you can have an adult help you collect them and make sure they go to the proper recycling containers.

Composting is another good way to recycle. Composting is taking organic trash, like fruit peels and leftover pieces of chopped vegetables, that can't go into recycling bins and breaking them down in a compost system to be used again in the soil. Composting is great for gardens because it has many nutrients that plants and the creatures in the earth need. Water from the bathtub or from cooking pasta can be filtered and recycled too. When you filter water you take all the harmful chemicals out of it. After the water has been filtered you can take it outside to water your plants or garden.

More Resources: