Teaching Children About Recycling “Reduce Reuse Recycle”


Teaching Children About Recycling

Kids Recycle Projects


Facts About Recycling


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle for Kids

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences offers great information on reducing, reusing, and recycling for kids. Share these facts about recycling with your children to help them understand the fundamentals of recycling.


To reduce means to use fewer things that might end up in the landfill. This can include buying food and other goods in bulk rather than in single-serve containers; starting a garden so there is virtually no packaging involved at all; or taking your own reusable cloth bags to the store instead of using the store’s plastic or paper bags to carry home groceries.


Reuse is just what it says: you use an item more than once. Examples of reusing are refilling water bottles many times with your own filtered water instead of buying a new bottle of water each time; using cloth napkins instead of paper napkins; repairing clothes, toys, bikes, and other household items rather than buying a brand new one; and buying items second hand at yard sales or thrift stores.


Recycling is the process of making something new from a discarded item. Do your part with recycling by throwing the unwanted phone books in a recycling can or dumpster instead of the garbage can; finding where you can recycle appliances to keep them out of landfills (some utility companies will even pay you to recycle certain appliances); taking aluminum cans to a kiosk in a parking lot or other recycling center to get money for them; and finding out exactly what items your local trash/recycling company accepts.

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Reuse Cloth Bags

Cut Down on Plastic Bags


Recycle Games — What Do Those Symbols Mean?

Get the Kids Involved with Recycling

This recycling symbol shows that this plastic jar was made from PET plastic, which stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate (pol-y-%u2018Eth-yl-lene ter-%u2018Eph-tha-late). This plastic has already been recycled and can be recycled again. This is a very good plastic jar to buy and recycle. At the grocery store make a game of having the kids find this recycling symbol on items you buy.





A Recycled Craft

Check Out the Clever Use of Bottlecaps on This Recycled Beauty

I found this lovely beauty at the local Goodwill thrift store last summer. I just love her.

She is made with a few pieces of wood, a couple of plastic bowls, wire, some random hardware, and lots of bottle caps. This might be an ambitious kid recycle project but isn’t she great!? Maybe a smaller version could be made somehow, like just using bottlecaps for dangling legs and arms for instance on a block of painted wood.

Recycling Tips

Think about what you throw away.

Can you do without it in the future?
Can you reuse it instead of tossing it in the trash?
Can you recycle it?



Recycling Activities for Kids — Make Binoculars from Toilet Paper Rolls

A Fun Recycling Craft to Do with the Kids

Recycle those toilet paper rolls and paper towel tubes instead of tossing them in the trash or the recycling bin. This fun kids recycle project uses minimal craft supplies and is fast to make. Get creative and you won’t have to buy anything to make some super spy binoculars for the whole neighborhood.

Start with these supplies:

– 2 toilet paper rolls or a long paper towel tube cut in half for each pair of binoculars
– Options for the base color of the binoculars:
* 1 color of felt
* Fabric like old blue jeans or a favorite old shirt
* Newsprint or other recycled paper
– Options to make the binoculars camouflage
* 2 more colors of felt cut into random camo shapes
* Contrasting fabric cut into random camo shapes
* Solid colored paper like a brown paper bag cut into random camo shapes
– 2 twist ties to join the tubes
– Cord or shoelace, optional, to make a neck cord (you may want to leave this off of young kids’ binoculars for safety)

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There are a couple of ways to make these binoculars.

1. Start by poking 2 holes in each recycled tube. Use an ice pick or other sharp object and poke a hole about 1/2 inch from the edge on both ends of each roll or tube. These holes will be used to join the tubes together so line them up. Each tube will have 2 holes that will line up at the inside middle and twist ties will be inserted through the holes to join the tubes to create binoculars.

2. If you want to include a neck cord (recommended only for older kids who can be trusted to not wrap the cord around their necks or anyone else’s neck), poke 1 more hole in each tube. This time, the holes need to be on the outside edge of the binoculars. Poke the neck cord hole across from 1 of the existing holes (again, about 1/2 inch from the edge). But just 1 hole per tube please.

If you forget to poke the holes at this point, no worries. You can do it later but it’s easier to poke the holes now than when the felt, fabric, or paper layer is added to the tube. It can be done though.

3. Cut out the base piece of felt, fabric, or paper and glue it to the toilet paper roll. Use white glue like Elmer’s or Mod Podge decoupage medium. Cut the random camouflage shapes and staple them to the covered roll.

You also can sew the random camo shapes to the base piece then glue the base piece of felt or fabric or paper to the roll. I recommend sewing (or using glue if you’re using paper as the base) the random pieces on. Older kids who can use a needle and thread can handle this simple task. Show them how to start under the fabric and pull the needle through to the top to use decorative top stitching to sew the pieces on. Then glue the decorated base to the tube.

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Use clothespin or binder clip at the edges where the base fabric meets to hold the edges down while the glue dries. Give it 10 or 15 minutes to dry if possible.

4. Join the 2 tubes using the twist ties. Poke a hole through the base material for all 4 or 6 holes you made earlier (4 holes for joining the 2 tubes and 2 holes for the optional neck cord). Line up the tubes so the 4 holes meet in the middle inside of the tubes. Thread a twist tie through 1 hole on each tube so the tubes are snug against each other, and twist the ties together. Tuck the twist tie inside the roll out of the way.

5. Add the cord. Slip a shoelace or other cord or heavy string through the outer 2 holes for the neck cord. Make sure it’s long enough for kids to take the binoculars on and off easily. Leave off the cord for young kids to be safe.

NOTE: These supplies are suggestions. Use whatever you have on hand. Remember, you’re recycling and teaching kids about recycling so use what you have, including your imagination.

Ways to Entertain and Teach Kids About Recycling

Put in a Youtube Video That Teaches Facts About Recycling


Recycling Tips — Projects You Can Do With Your Children

Or save these ideas for yourself!

A hot summer day is perfect for kids recycle projects. Do a little planning so you have all the supplies on hand then spend an afternoon under the ceiling fan doing a recycled craft.


Do you recycle with kids?

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