How do we keep motivating our kids to recycle?

Wonder Bread Bags

Over 1500 schools across the country are participating in this year's Wonder Recycling Rewards program! The goal is to educate students while collecting as many bread bags as possible.

Even if you're not involved in the program this year, involving our kids in recycling at a young age can help to model positive behaviour and create a better future for our children. 

So, as we continue collecting and recycling our soft plastic bread bags, @misslearningbee has noted down 6 tips on how we can keep motivating our kids to recycle.

1. Make it meaningful for kids

Kids will always engage with a concept far more when they understand the relevance and/or meaning behind it. Read and watch age-appropriate content which will show children the impact that humans are having on the planet. Kids have a strong sense of justice and what is right and wrong. When we tap into that, we help kids to develop extraordinary social consciences that will often put adults to shame!

2. Help kids to understand the process

Kids will be far more motivated if they understand WHERE their recycled items are going and WHAT will happen to them. Explain what happens to the materials once they are collected from the recycling bins, and how this is different to landfill. Show kids different examples of items that have been made with recycled materials.

3. Involve kids in the process

You will always get far more buy-in from kids when they are actively involved in the process. Find ways to involve them – design signs for the bins, conduct a waste audit and discuss ways to improve, or create recycling systems together. Also, ask THEM for ideas. Kids have unique perspectives and think creatively. They will often think of many fantastic additional ways to improve recycling at home or at school.

4. Make it fun

Silliness, laughter and fun will always help to engage and motivate kids. Kids LOVE anything that involves a challenge, so find ways to create some healthy competition! Set challenges and targets, and try to beat your previous records! You might like to create recycling characters e.g. Paper Penny, Tommy Trash. Having ‘nude food’ days (e.g. “Nudie Tuesdays”) can also be a fun way to encourage children to use re-usable containers rather than single-use plastics.

5. Model sustainable practices

Kids are sponges, and are always watching and learning from the example that we set for them as adults. If we are encouraging them to recycle, we need to lead by example. Use re-usable coffee cups, recycle your own rubbish, re-purpose items where possible, and be a sustainable role-model.

6. Create systems and routines that will support habit-building

We want recycling to become second-nature for our kids- a habit which they don’t even think about. But habits take time to develop. By creating systems and routines that will support recycling, we are setting our kids up for success and helping them to build sustainable habits that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. These changes may seem minor in isolation, but the habits that we create in our children now will become the habits of the future.