Earth Day is just around the corner. Across the nation, organizations are doing whatever they can to raise awareness and bring people of all ages together to save the environment. At The Ligonier Public Library in Ligonier, Ind. for example, staff members will be giving away tree saplings entirely free of charge.
Children may apply to receive a sapling as well as species and planting information. The library encourages parents to “share photos of their children planting the trees with the library” to help spread the message among the local community.
No matter where you are located, as April 22, 2021 approaches, the coming holiday is the perfect opportunity to teach your children about recycling and doing their part to lower your household’s carbon footprint. Here are the best ways to do that.
Why Should Children Learn About Sustainability?
When it comes to the environment, the stakes are incredibly high. They include the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet that we will leave to future generations. Children will play an incredibly large role in this legacy, and it is important for them to understand the effects of their actions.
Household emissions — either direct or indirect — account for over 82% of emissions nationwide. Plus, our children’s schools pay over $6 billion per year for energy costs. Schools could easily reduce these costs by 25% by making smarter choices, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reveals.
Talk to Your Kids About Sustainability and Recycling
Kids listen. Just like a well-placed YouTube advertisement or social media marketing may catch their eye and inspire them to ask you for the trendiest new toy, talking to your children openly about sustainability will get the message across.
Let your kids know the facts. For example, teach them that 90% of the items and “waste” that end up in the trash can be reused, recycled, or composted.
Research Your City’s Recycling Procedures
Recycling procedures vary by city and state. Do your research. Find out whether your city requires you to sort recyclable materials into different bins. If they do, involve your children by asking them to help design and draw labels for you. Tape these labels to the side of each bin.
Set Up Labeled Bins In Your Home Or Garage
Put your labeled bins in an easily accessible spot, like on the floor of the garage. Cities may ask you to have separate bins for paper, plastic, cans, and glass. Show your child examples of appropriate things to put in each.
Place soda cans in the cans bin, milk cartons in the plastic bin, and jars and wine bottles in the glass bin. Depending on where you live, one bin may be fuller than the others. For example, California is the fourth leading producer of wine worldwide, topped only by France, Spain, and Italy. You may have a significant amount of glass being recycled, or perhaps your family goes through more milk cartons than other families!
Show Your Kids How to Rinse Out Empty Bottles And Cans
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 30 to 40% of all food in the U.S. ends up as food waste. What’s more, in most cities, if you attempt to recycle a jar with remnants of spaghetti sauce still inside, that jar will go to the landfill instead. If the jar is in a bin with other items, the entire bin may end up being thrown away.
Teach kids to rinse out soda cans, cans of soup, and jars immediately after using them.
Be Thoughtful About Your Purchases
All across the globe, about 40% of steel comes from recycled metal. Likewise, many of the day-to-day items we purchase, including food items at the grocery store, are available in recycled packaging.
KiwiCo recommends challenging children to a game of “Grocery Store Scavenger.” The game challenges kids to look for items in packaging that they can compost, recycle, or reuse. Tell kids to keep an eye out for glass, metal, and paper packaging and to search for symbols indicating that it is either made from recycled materials or that it can be recycled.
Recycling is important. Whenever possible, it is best to instill good habits in your children when they are still young. Use the list above to get them started.