Recycling is easy – and a fun family project any day of the year. Here are a few simple steps your family can take together to maximize what gets recycled in your home.
1. Get smart. It takes just a few clicks of the computer mouse to find out which recyclables are accepted in your area and where they can be taken. Today, more than 80 percent of U.S. households have access to a recycling program, and the majority of them collect a variety of recyclables, including many plastics.
2. Post the list. Keep the list of recyclables in a highly visible area, such as on the refrigerator or attached to your recycling bin.
3. Check the neck. Virtually all communities collect plastic bottles. A bottle is any container with a neck that’s smaller than its base. This includes everything from beverage bottles to milk jugs to jars for peanut butter, mayonnaise, cooking oil and salad dressing. Make it a game by asking kids to identify bottles and other recyclables as you shop and unpack your groceries.
4. Bring bags back. Many large grocers and retailers collect used plastic bags and product wraps for recycling. Make sure kids know that this category includes shopping bags, newspaper bags and wraps from bread, bathroom tissue, diapers and cases of beverages. Kids can help you collect items in a plastic bag and deposit on return trips to the store.
5. Think outside the kitchen. Ask kids to look for items that can be recycled from areas outside the kitchen, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and storage areas (be sure to give instructions that cleaning products and bottles in the garage are not to be touched).
6. Set targets. Set tangible goals for your kids to reach each week. For example, you can aim to throw out one less bag of trash per week.
7. Keep a sticker chart. This works particularly well with younger children. Every time your child remembers to recycle, add a sticker to his or her chart. When enough stickers are collected, award a favorite toy or treat.
8. Let kids keep the change. If you take your recyclables to a recycling facility, let your kids pocket any profits you receive. The more plastic bottles they collect, the more money they will receive – a great incentive!
9. Stay with the program. If you notice that your child is repeatedly forgetting to recycle, continue to remind him or her how all recyclables – especially plastics – are too valuable to waste and should be reused and recycled. And remind them that by recycling those plastic water bottles, they are giving them a “second life” to make things like lumber and decking for homes, car bumpers, fleece jackets, even their next favorite t-shirt!
10. Set a good example. Make sure you are following the recycling rules as well! Your kids will learn by watching you recycle.