There are many way that we can help create a better, cleaner environment, even in small ways, like dealing with the messes children make.

Save the environment one piece of garbage at a time by recycling. Keeping trash out of landfills, oceans, and roadside ditches not only leaves our planet looking and feeling clean, but it has positive long-term effects. Imagine what would happen if all of our landfills were full or our ocean was so contaminated with junk that the sea life died. By recycling, which means turning trash into new items, we are helping to save our environment one step at a time. For most people, however, recycling is an afterthought, which is why it is important to introduce recycling to children at an early age. The sooner we get our children to make recycling a habit, the better off our world will be. Here are some tips to help you introduce recycling to even the youngest of learners.

How to Recycle

Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, is the most popular day to discuss recycling. However, you should start today by introducing the idea of recycling to your kids. While many younger children may not grasp the concept of why it is important to recycle, you can show them why recycling is great so that it becomes a habit for them later on in life. The best way to teach your child to recycle is to be a good role model by recycling yourself. In the resources below, you will find plenty of guidance as you approach this topic with your children no matter what their age.

  • The 3 R’s – Discover ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle from a kid’s point of view, games and activities included from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
  • How Garbage Affects Nature – Using an interactive program, see how garbage affects animals and the ecosystem directly – includes hands on craft projects, online games, and additional resources.
  • Introducing Recycling to Young Children – National Geographic provides an informative article for parents who are struggling with ways to teach young children the reasons and ways of recycling.
  • Kids’ Green Scene – The Kids’ Green Scene is a kid-friendly blog that posts current events related to recycling.
  • Ways to Encourage Recycling – Read about methods you can use to make recycling a daily habit for your child.
  • Visit Recycle City – The Environmental Protection Agency has developed an interactive site featuring online games and hands-on activities that encourage children to recycle.
  • Meet Recycle Rex – One helpful dinosaur, Recycle Rex reinforces the principles of the 3 R’s with online games and printable coloring pages.
  • Read About Recycling (pdf) – Check out this book list of suggested reading for children in preschool through 5th grade.
  • Lesson Plans for Kindergarten – Find several lesson plans geared at kindergarteners, as well as a list of links for further information.

What Kids Can Make with Recycled Paper

Paper products ranging from newspaper to toilet paper tubes are one of the most substantial forms of recyclable material we produce. It is also the easiest type of material to reuse in our homes. Here are several resources related to reusing paper, including a method for recycling your very own paper. Check out all of the craft projects you can do at home using all kinds of paper including old magazines and school notebook paper.

  • How to Make Recycled Paper – Watch an informative video that shows you the process of recycling your used newsprint and craft paper, and transforming it into recycled sheets of paper.
  • Simple Craft Projects for Recycled Paper – Instead of throwing out all of your used paper products including plates and toilet paper rolls, try some of these kid-friendly craft ideas.
  • How to Make Paper Bowls – Craft paper bowls and trivets using pages from your old magazines, the perfect option for those glossy pages that cannot be recycled by many facilities.
  • 24 Paper Crafts – Martha Stewart presents 24 paper crafts that reuse a wide range of paper products, from empty paper towel rolls to used greeting cards.
  • Toilet Paper Tube Art – Apartment Therapy lists several innovative ways to reuse those empty toilet paper and paper towel cardboard tubes.

General Arts and Crafts Made from Recyclables

One of the most immediate benefits of recycling is that you are saving money. By taking stuff you would normally toss in the recycling bin, you can transform it into new-to-you objects. Get ready to be creative as you try out some of these craft projects using everything from old stuffed animals to stained T-shirts. As the 3 R’s are recycling, reducing, and reusing, you are doing your part by reusing stuff rather than filling the landfills with it. And, you can create some nice and useful items, which you can keep or give away as gifts.

  • 40 Recyclable Projects – Family Fun by Disney has compiled 40 kid-friendly craft projects that reuse and re-purpose recyclable objects.
  • Go Green with Crafting – Learn how to transform all types of things, from CDs and DVDs to empty egg cartons, into new and useful items.
  • 12 Crafts for Older Kids – Pre-teens and teenagers will love these funky crafts that save money without sacrificing on style, including stuffed animal headphones, colorful night lamp covers, and re-purposed T-shirt tank tops.
  • Make Art for Pennies – Kinder Art presents dozens of craft project resources targeted at young children including a milk carton bird house and wind chimes made from old silverware.
  • 6 Kid Crafts – Better Homes and Gardens lists 6 fun projects for kids to do that transforms trash into treasure.
  • Celebrate Earth Day – Here is a wonderful selection of dozens of crafts using recyclable items. Create coffee ground fossils, paper mache globes, and tin can flower pots.
  • Useful Crafts for Kids – From a cardboard box oven that really works to a food box camera, here are some innovative projects using recycled items.
  • Eco-Friendly Craft Projects – Check out these ecologically-friendly crafting ideas by Martha Stewart, including beads made from stale bread and cardboard doll furniture.

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