Five Fun Ways to Introduce Children to Reducing Waste and Being Green

It’s never too soon to get children involved in saving the planet. Children love to learn about their environment and how to look after it. If you want to help your littlest ones discover how to be green and help you around the home take a look at these fun reuse, repurpose and recycling activities.

There are lots of great Earth Day activities on the net for children however sustainability and looking after our planet is something that I want to make more of an everyday thing in our house. Children naturally get involved in upcycling art projects, pretend play and even small chores which we can build on to help make them more aware of how they can help the world around them.

A Truck Load of Fun

My preschooler loves all things garbage truck, a lot of them do right? The fun of waiting by the window on bin (trash) day to see how they get the rubbish into the truck. And these days it’s not just a one time treat, there can be up to three collections a week here – trash, recycling, garden waste. Thinking about it there’s also the big leaf-sucker-upper-composting machine but that’s a whole other story.

So, my first step was to monopolize on this interest. Our friend Blippi came in handy yet again with his video ‘Garbage Trucks for Children with Blippi – Learn about Recycling‘. He provided a simple introduction on what can and can’t be recycled as well as plenty of fun garbage truck action! I’m pretty sure I learnt a few tips too.

Sort it Out

Our next trick was another great combination of little kid favorites – stickers, sorting and bins! Sorting is a great maths skill for pre schoolers to develop, we often encourage them to sort items by shape, color and size. We found this great Teaching Tree Recycling Activity Kit where children get to peel and stick items into the corresponding aluminum, plastic, paper and composting container. I had to give Little Bother some help but he had a great time working out where each item went. But then, he does think it’s hilarious to hover our real life garbage items over the wrong color bin only to drop it into the correct bin after all when I look alarmed. Watch out for the sticker sort at Dollar Tree, I’m sure I’ve seen them in there.


These days I’ve always got a helper when it’s time to take the recycling and trash out!

Read All About it!

Storytime is a great way to support practical learning and capture children’s imaginations in surprising ways. There are many new books out there about environmental issues for children. I was tickled by the title and cover of ‘The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle‘ by Alison Inches (UK link in picture).

When it arrived I was a little worried that it would be too wordy for a three year old but both Big and Little Brother were totally taken by the story and science inside. It really helped me to explain the possibilities of recycling and why we bother to sort our trash.

Hop on the Upcycle Trend

There are many, many opportunities to use items an extra time before they head to the recycling plant or landfill. Plastic bottles can be turned into homemade bowling games, cans and boxes into percussion instruments, and the upcycled art possibilities are endless. Of course you can’t beat the good old cardboard box for pretend play and repurposing! Have a look on Pinterest if you need inspiration.

Looking After What We Have

We all know children burn through clothes and toys remarkably quickly, they just grow so fast. That doesn’t mean we want to be throwing away great quantities of these items. I try really hard to talk to both boys about looking after their possessions, making sure things don’t get broken or worn too quickly. Not just so they understand their value in terms of money but also in terms of resources.

It is difficult to get them to part with their old toys and clothes for resale or donation but we talk about why it’s a good thing; about making space for the new things we need at home and for giving other a children a chance to enjoy them. Especially as Christmas approaches we do sort through the playroom together and find at least one item to pass on (before I get started on the big clear out!).

Of course they love it when I bring things home from resale… it’s a great time to show how fun reusing and recycling can be. There’s a pre-loved scooter whizzing around my yard right now!

If you and your littles have enjoyed learning about recycling keep an eye out for upcoming posts on green tasks for children so you can build a more environmentally friendly home together.


Disclosure: Contains affiliate links.

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