Reducing, Reusing and Recycling with kids

Lead by example. Words to live by especially when you have children. How can my kids help recycle when they can’t even pick up their own toys? Well frankly its pretty easy once you give them the tools to do it. Since we have recycled our whole lives in one way or another, it is normal everyday life to our children. They don’t know any different so to them this is just normal living. But for those who do not recycle and want to start there is no need to freak out. Children are like little sponges and soak up any bit of information thrown at them.
Reducing-As a parent I have done everything I can to reduce the amount of packaging coming into our home. Growing our own garden means we don’t have plastic produce bags floating around. We do not eat prepackaged foods and make everything from scratch so that has helped. When you are shopping look for packaging you can reuse. Large pickle jars can be used for storing flour, salsa jars are perfect for your homemade jelly, and even plastic jars can be Anytime turned into money jars for the kids. If my children want to spend their money or are purchasing gifts I will usually encourage them to think about packaging and seek our earth friendly products. Teach them as you make your decisions and explain everything.
Reusing-Growing up I knew of two different type of stores. Grocery stores were for food and everything else was bought from thrift stores. Buying things from second hand stores is just another form of reusing and recycling. Things were just built better years ago which is why you can find pretty much anything in a thrift store. Since money was tight my mom would fix anything she could before she would buy anything. But if it couldn’t be fixed then my mom would hit the thrift stores and always found what she needed. Handing down clothes, accepting clothes from friends/family and buying from thrift stores is just a great way to reuse. For fun let the kids go through the recycling bin and do crafts. It’s pretty amazing how creative kids can get.
Recycling-One thing we have done for years is to put a paper bag into each room. Under the bathroom cabinet, in a closet, or even just behind the door. Any recyclables can get tossed into there. Just remember when its full it needs to be dumped into the recycling bin and the paper bag can be reused. If there is a bag in each room then there is no excuse for kids to use it. Just about anything can be recycled so research your local recycling center and learn what they accept and don’t accept. And don’t forget that there are many places who recycle things that recycling centers will not. You may have to bring it to them but its a step worth it in the end.
Compost-Yes even composting is a form of recycling! There are several free to make compost options on the internet just google “easy compost”. You can toss pretty much everything into a compost bin except for bones, dairy and weeds. Lint, egg shells, left over food scraps, grass clippings, leaves and even twigs if small enough.
We are able to share a garbage service with our neighbors by following these steps. We never fill our garbage bin and rarely ever fill our recycling bin. Pretty amazing considering 2 families with 4 adults and 6 children are using these. This not only is good for the earth but it saves a good chunk of change each month. So I encourage you to have fun and get creative. But most importantly get the kids involved!

Nancy Baldwin

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