Teacher’s Resources

How to Clean up Your Act with Recycling

Did you know that when you throw out a plastic bottle it will stay in the environment for thousands of years before it breaks down? It will sit around in landfills longer than you’ll be alive. Did you also know that Americans go through about 2.5 million bottles every year? This kind of waste can have a long-lasting impact on our environment, and that includes everything: our oceans, our lands, our drinking water, our air, plants, animals, and us!

In order for us to not have a huge, negative impact on our planet, everyone needs to do their part in cleaning up and reducing the amount of trash they throw away. That’s done using the three r’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. You can reduce the amount of trash you get and throw out. When you don’t have as much stuff you don’t need, you’ll have less to throw away. For instance, when it comes to our example of the plastic bottle, you can buy your bottles with less packaging, or buy fewer bottles and replace them with safe drinking water from a tap. You can also reuse materials. In our example, you could create a piece of art by using your plastic bottles in a neat, useful, or creative way. Lastly, you can recycle, which means sending the materials off to a separate plant (not throwing them away) to be processed and created into something new.

Plastic bottles are not the only thing can be recycled. Cardboard, used paper, newspapers, plastic bags, aluminum cans, glass bottles, magazines, and certain metals can all be sent to recycling plants and reprocessed, as well. Many, if not most, things that people normally throw out can be put into the correct recycling bins. Sometimes there are separate recycling facilities for certain electronics. Before you throw out your batteries, printer ink cartridges, computers, or other electronic devices check to see if you can get those recycled too.

Also, you can reuse and recycle many more materials on your own with the help of a parent or teacher by creating a natural compost pile. Food stuffs and natural wastes like egg shells, banana peels, or stale cereal can be put into a pile. After being broken down by worms for about a year, the organic stuff becomes a thick, rich soil that’s great for gardening. There are many different ways to reuse, recycle, and reduce your trash. Get creative and ask your parents for help coming up with new, clever ideas!

Cleaning our planet and protecting it from new wastes can be a lot of fun. Using the following resources to learn more: