"Waste not, want not," is a phrase you have likely heard before and is applicable when teaching children how to reduce, reuse and recycle items at home and elsewhere. Educate kids about the importance of cutting down on waste, how it hurts others and how to help stop it.
Reduce Litter Activity
Your kids need time and attention from you anyway to remain healthy so take a walk down the street in your neighborhood with them, with garbage bag in hand — and latex gloves on — to educate them on the role litter plays in the environment. Ask them to pick up any papers on the side of the road but to avoid glass or other debris that could puncture their gloves or harm them to touch. Point out that animals can be harmed by stepping on these items too. Encourage them to refrain from littering outdoors at home and elsewhere and to reduce garbage when possible, like using real dishes instead of paper products that have to be disposed of afterward. Next, take them to a landfill so they can see how garbage can pile up over time.
Reuse Foods for Composting
Provide kids with a garbage bag. Ask them to put uneaten food items in it throughout the day that they would normally throw away. At end of the day, educate kids about composting and how certain food items (fruits, vegetable peelings and crushed egg shells) can be composted to feed worms in your garden. Provide a compost barrel for kids to place contents from bags in it which can be composted.
Recycling Paper Activity
Instruct kids to collect brown grocery store bags from home. Prepare a bag for decorating by cutting the bottom from it, slitting one wide side from top to bottom and making arm holes in the two smaller sides. Supply used greeting cards and ask kids to cut up cards to glue on new "vests" for costume use. Explain recycling of grocery bags and greeting cards for play purposes reduces unnecessary waste in landfills — at least for a while. Further recycling of grocery bags can even be done after using for costumes by using the bags to kill weeds. Demonstrate how to place bag over weeds cover them with mulch.
Gardening Recycling Activity
Request kids bring an empty 2-liter plastic soda bottle from home. Cut bottles in half. Cut holes in lower portions to allow for water drainage. Provide kids with soil and flower seeds. Instruct them to place soil in the bottles and plant seeds in middle of the soil. Explain that recycling bottles as pots reduces landfill waste while meeting a gardening need. Send plants home with kids to water and grow, reminding them through the visual and maintenance experience that recycling reduces waste while providing benefits.