Set up a bin system
Work with the space you have. If this is limited, you can find bins that have two different compartments or tuck small roll-out bins under a shelf or low table. You can even convert a large pullout drawer into a bin, hook bins up vertically on a wall in the garage or somewhere similar, or even place them outside. If space does not permit any of these options, you can use one bin for all recyclables and later separate them. It may be an extra step, but it can save some space. Additionally, flattening boxes, plastic containers, and cans will allow you to fit more in less space. Do whatever is most convenient for you.
-For more ideas, see our Pinterest account or DIY page.
Learn how to recycle
Once you know what can be recycled, you won't have to constantly stop to think or research whether something is acceptable or not. Contact your local recycling facilities or curbside pick up to ask what they permit and for their recommendations on items they do not accept.
-You can also review our How to Recycle page for a list of common recyclables and extra tips.
Be a conscience buyer
Try buying products that contain recycled materials, after all it will save you money! You can also buy products that are easily recyclable and that are safe for the environment (making it safer for your children and even for your health!). Hazardous materials are harder to dispose of and really do not belong in a home with small children, which is why we highly advise finding alternatives and non-toxic products whenever possible. There are many DIY projects that can help with this too!
Turn scraps into compost
We all know how picky kids can be when it comes to eating. Its normal, but instead of letting all that food go to waste, put it to good use! If you have a garden, you can use your compost as nutritious soil. If you don't care at all for gardening, you can always sell your compost to farmers or even make your own business and sell it to others that do garden. Your kids might even like to see this process as it happens, but be patient as it doesn't happen over night!
1. Explain why this effort is important
By helping your family understand the reasons behind recycling, it will be a lot easier to get them on board. Kids particularly have a deep connection and love for animals and this affection for animals can drive them to really commit to the cause. For a spouse, it can be as simple as explaining how much money it can save you. When they have a reason to make the extra effort, they are more likely to adopt the new habit rather than reject it.
-To learn about more benefits of recycling to help you in your reasoning, please visit our Recycle Benefits page.
The recycling process is also pretty interesting and your children might enjoy seeing it first hand. For this reason, taking a field trip to a recycling facility would be a fun experience for the whole family that can further help your family understand this process and help them see the importance in it.
2. Simplify the effort
To make recycling easy for the family you can mark the bins in which they are meant for or use printable labels, you can also paste a list (on or near the bin) of all of the items that would fall under paper/plastic/glass etc. to help them sort through things easier (add pictures for the youngest ones), and place these bins in areas that are easily spotted.
Additionally, you can even add a bin by the front door so you can quickly put junk mail to be recycled and you can add a bin in the bathroom for those empty bottles. Anywhere you think common recyclables appear is a great place to place extra bins. Once everyone makes it a habit, you can place the bins out of site if you prefer.
-Again, for creative ideas on making a recycling station, please follow us on Pinterest or see our DIY page.
3. Make it fun!
To really get them interested or to encourage them to participate, you can make a game out of recycling.
Such games could include using the bins as basketball hoops (except the one for glass of course!) and have them compete on who can remember to recycle the most (even have a separate bin for everyone that can be sorted later-this is great to jog their memory and verify they are recycling the proper things). Likewise, you can use plastic bottles as bowling pins and crumbled up paper as the bowling ball, once enough is recycled to do so.
Following this with a point system that yields coins back, candy, a trip of their choice, more play time, less chores, or any reward you can think of will amplify these efforts and enjoyment!
4. Turn recycling into arts and crafts
This is a great way to teach your kids how to save money and reuse items that would've likely been discarded. Plus, what child doesn't love arts and crafts after all?
One way to get your kids to really take pride in this effort would be to have them decorate their own personal recycling bin! They will love making good use of it afterwards.
Then, you can also make masks out of large brown baggies or a large milk jug, make hand puppets out of smaller brown bags, or make large plastic bottles (from laundry detergent bottles or milk jugs) into catching devices that can then be turned into a game. The possibilities are endless! For this reason we save many DIY craft ideas on our Pinterest account for everyone to view.
5. Lead by example!
This is very important. The more dedicated and enthusiastic you are about recycling, the more likely it is that others around you will be too. To help the little ones out, you can always voice your actions so they notice them. For example, when you go to recycle your milk jug, state it and state which recycling bin it is going into and why. Kids learn best when they can see things done and when they repeat those same steps. Not to mention, the little ones like to mimic their parents or others they look up to, especially if they like to play grown-up ;)