6 activities to encourage recycling and using less plastic for kids

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  • It is important that the values ​​of recycling among children are promoted from an early age.
    It is important that the values ​​of recycling among children are promoted from an early age. Source: Freepik.

The aim of these proposals is to encourage nature-friendly habits in the young in a playful manner.

Encouraging positive habits during the early years of a child’s life is essential to maintain these habits throughout one’s life. That is why it’s important to instil values such as recycling, reusing and reducing waste production among children from a very young age.

Here are some activities that can be used to encourage children to recycle and use less plastic in a fun and easy way.

1. Make small greenhouses using plastic bottles
Handcraft activities are a fun way of reusing plastic and other waste. Working with these materials starts off from the collection point as a way of starting to build awareness. Knowing and discussing how much plastic waste a family generates during one week is a first approach to the topic.

In this regard, the NGO Educo, which works globally for development and humanitarian action, suggests making greenhouses using plastic bottles. You can plant fruit and vegetables in pots and protect them with bottles. To do this all you need is to cut the bottom off a plastic bottle and remove the lid, and this will protect the plants.

2. Build musical instruments with recycled materials
Shady Rabab was rewarded by the UN for making musical instruments out of plastic waste. Garbage Music is the proof that you can give plastic containers a second life instead of throwing them away. Also, Rabab’s project was developed for children living in vulnerable situations and to encourage them to learn music.

In a similar way, Vibra-Tó is a group that conducts research and creates musical instruments with everyday objects and waste.

3. Waste calculator
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) 'Clean Seas' provides schools and other spaces working with children resources to reduce the use of plastic. One of the proposals in this campaign is the “waste calculator”, aiming to raise awareness among children on the use of plastic at home. During one week, children are encouraged to pick up plastic waste and weigh it.

 This allows children to see how much plastic waste is generated and invites them to think about new ways of reducing our use of plastic.

4. Cleaning up the environment
The Association of Cities Regions for sustainable Resource management (ACR+) organises the European Week of Waste Reduction (EWWR) as a way of encouraging actions to raise awareness on waste managements. Such actions include cleaning-up the environment, an event where many people can participate and that in recent years has been promoted by many public and private institutions.

5. Guess how long I’ll live

The Catalan Federation of Leisure Activities also has activities with Breakout sessions to discover how long plastic containers will last in nature. The game designed as an escape room where participants must open padlocks on a box based on the years it takes for a plastic waste to decompose.

6. Talks on the importance of recycling

It may seem obvious, but a range of organisations working with children and teens all agree that it is essential to talk about this with children so they understand. Explanations must be adapted to the age of the group and use everyday examples. Videos, images or drawings may also be useful to illustrate the information. This is an obvious, yet necessary and important first step.

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