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How to Recycle: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

Taking care of the planet isn't just for Earth Day! Read on to learn about how you can make a difference every day by reducing, reusing, and recycling!

Why Recycle?

Did you know that the average person creates just over four pounds of garbage per day? If you want to think of it in terms of how much garbage a person creates on an annual basis, that number is 1.5 tons! That's more than the weight of some cars! If you multiply that number by the number of members in your family and think of all that trash, you may realize that it's a whole lot!

It's probably best that all that garbage doesn't end up in a landfill.

This is what a landfill looks like.
landfill

It can take 700 years for plastic and 1,000,000 years for glass to decompose in a landfill - we definitely don't want to add more than we need to.

What Can Be Recycled?

  • Metals- things like soda cans, soup cans, coffee cans, aluminum foil, bakeware
  • Paper/Cardboard- things like cardboard boxes, magazines, newspapers, junk mail, cardboard dairy/juice boxes
  • Glass- clear, brown, and green glass bottles or jars
  • Plastics- most plastics can be recycled - milk jugs, soda bottles, laundry detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, plastic bags
  • Batteries - car batteries, household batteries
  • Electronics - old computers, tablets, phones, printers, televisions

Recycling: A How-to Guide

Recycling at Home

  • You want to first ask the adults you live with if you have curbside collection or if you need to bring your own garbage to the landfill. Depending on which one you have, it will help if you know what can be recycled and how to recycle in your community.
  • Each city/town and private waste collection companies have their own rules for recycling. It's important that you research the guidelines on their website or in their mailings before you start.
  • Some curbside collections require for materials to be sorted into different types of materials, while others have single-stream recycling, a system that does the sorting for you!

If you have single-stream curbside recycling, you may have a city-issued container like the one in the image.

Single-stream Recycling Bin

  • No matter what type of recycling you have, you want to make sure all recycled items are clean. That means that you have to empty them out, and in many cases, they will need to be rinsed.
  • Also, don't forget to flatten all the boxes that you want to recycle. You want to make as much room as possible in your containers!

Recycling on the Go

When you're out and you just finish your favorite bottle of soda, what do you do?

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