This week marked National Recycling Day on Thursday, November 15th. While it may not seem to be an obvious screen-free activity to do with your toddler, recycling has become part of our daily routine in the mornings.
As toast is toasting or water is on the stove for oatmeal, we head out to our recycling bins and take the previous day’s bottles and jars out. It’s nice to think that Tomato will have always had recycling as a part of her life. It will be second nature for her. By heading out together to do this task, it has given us conversations which have been a great way for us to discuss colors, sizes, materials and the days of the week. She is constantly asking if we need to take the cans down for trash day and it lets us review which day of the week it is.
These conversations transition well to our errands when we are out and about. Starbucks has new recycling bins and we talk about what can go in them. Also, Whole Foods has several different ways to put away your trash, so we talk about compost, trash and recycling there. One of the programs available at Whole Foods is the Gimme 5 program.
We have been longtime users of Preserve toothbrushes and razors and have used their Gimme 5 program to mail in old toothbrushes and razor handles, Brita filters and for Stonyfield yogurt cups. They have recently partnered with Burt’s Bees in order to recycle their lip balm containers and all plastic caps.
You are able to recycle #5 plastics and they are converted into other plastic items. Your lip balm tube today may be your yogurt cup tomorrow. It’s a great way to help out and to talk with your kids about how we can close the loop on plastics. Before you take your plastics to the store, have your kids help you to clean them or rinse them out. They can sort them by size, color or type of container and then give them the opportunity to put them into the Gimme 5 bin (followed by a high five of course!). Allowing them to help gives them ownership of the good habits that you want them to have and they feel a part of the solution.
Another recycling activity that kids can help with is with the cartons that you may have in the house. Recently, I discovered that cartons were able to be included in our town’s recycling. You can check to see if your town does right here. So, now I have to make sure to remember to put them in our bins. Luckily, I have a 2 year old Tomato who is on top of it and reminds me every time she sees one being emptied. A benefit of choosing cartons as containers for your foods is that they are made from a renewable resource, wood pulp, and are coming from responsibly managed forests.
In addition to being recyclable, cartons are reusable in many ways such as birdhouses, planters, and containers. We’ll be exploring some of these activities in a future TV Free Friday post as we get towards the spring season. This gardening and birding family is looking forward to what we can do with them!
So, the next time that you head out to the recycling bin, take your kids along. Talk to them about the importance of closing the loop on the life of materials, teach them about keeping things out of our landfills, and do some fun sorting activities. For those of you with preschoolers, go slowly and do some letter exploration with the words on the cartons. With older kids, talk about geography if you can find where the companies are based on the carton. Enjoy the communication building and environmental responsibility learning opportunities!
What do you do to involve your kids with recycling?