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10 Simple Ways to Teach the Benefits of Recycling

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There is nothing like a visit to your nearest landfill to get a feel for the need to recycle. Having in sight huge mounds of trash that, though buried, still reek definitely puts in mind the need to keep those mounds from getting bigger, because you know they're going to be around for centuries. It's so beneficial; besides keeping the size of our landfills down, it: 1) prevents waste of potentially useful materials, 2) reduces the consumption of fresh raw materials, 3) reduces energy usage, 4) reduces air pollution from incineration and water pollution from landfilling, and 5) lowers greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production, according to Wikipedia. We've talked about it quite a few times on MomItForward, here and here,  for instance. Since school is starting, let me share with you some ways to support the teaching of recycling to our kids.

How to Teach the Benefits of Recyling

  1. Take your kids to your local county landfill, like I said. Looking at one online is not the same. To find your nearest landfill, Google "__________ county landfill." If you get a listing for your local transfer station, call them and find out where the actual landfill is.
  2. Donate $5 to Mrs. Harmon's Byron, Georgia elementary school class, through DonorsChoose.org, so she can purchase some big recycling bins and run a contest to motivate her students to recycle.
  3. Collect plastic bottle caps from sodas and bottled waters and make fish lid art, like that created by Ms. I's high-poverty Milton, Florida elementary school students.
  4. Share, through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google Plus, Ms. I's DonorsChoose request for donations for tools to make more lid art for more students.
  5. Break some old plates, dishes, or glasses and make some mosaic art with the pieces.
  6. Donate $5 to Mrs. O.'s Anaheim, California high-school 3-D Design class, through DonorsChoose.org, so she can purchase grout and other supplies needed for them to do a recycled material/found object piece of art.
  7. Help design some simple signage for a Girl Scout anniversary event and elementary school lunchroom recycling program, through Sparked.com.
  8. Read this article about school Waste Reduction Programs, and contact a staff member at your kids' school to see if they need help implementing or enforcing this kind of program.
  9. Make a newspaper tree, or maybe even an office paper tree, with these video instructions from Steve Spangler Science.
  10. Make a "greenhouse gas" jar, like this one made by Steve Spangler, to illustrate the effect of too much greenhouse gases.

Let us know if you've tried any of these ideas. How'd it go?

 What are your suggestions for teaching kids about the negative effects of landfills or the positive consequences of recycling?

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