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:
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Learn not only about recycling, but reusing and reducing as well.
- EekoWorld: Garbage and Recycling (Interactive) – The EekoCreature discusses what happens when you throw out a piece of trash in this video.
- Recycle This! (Game) – This is a fun game that will also teach you about recycling, brought to you by NASA.
- Recycle City (Interactive) – Explore Recycle City, a town that does good work for its environment. Its citizens know how to reduce waste and use less energy.
- Using and Saving Energy: Recycling – You can save energy when you recycle products.
- Trash Smash (Game) – Remove waste and trash from our estuaries and safe waterways in this fun game.
- Recycling Quiz (PDF) – Test the knowledge you’ve gained today with this short quiz from the National Park Service.
- Barnaby Bear (Game) – Collect points by placing the correct items in the right bins.
- Can it! (Game) – Choose an aluminum, plastic, or glass “character” and make your way across a busy Californian street.
- Kids Be Green: 3R’s Most Extreme Challenge (Game) – Save items from the trash by reducing, reusing, or recycling them.
- Recycle Roundup (Game) – Help an enthusiastic monkey recycle and make compost in this fun game.
- Recyclable Projects – Turn your old cans and bottles into Disney-themed characters and crafts.
- 6 Clever Recycled Crafts – Here are some more ideas for getting crafty and reusing old stuff.
- 100 Percent Recycled Crafts – Ask your parents for help and have fun with these low-cost crafts.
- Recycled Arts and Crafts Guide (PDF) – Be creative and produce new works of art out of old trash.
- Be a Green Kid – What does it mean to be “green”? Find out with this article from KidsHealth.org.
- Stash The Trash (Game) – Get trash out of the oceans and beaches with this game that tests your reflexes!
- How To Be a “Vermiculturist” – With these instructions, you can how to make compost out of food wastes.
- Do the Rot Thing: A Guide to Composting (PDF) – This teacher’s guide contains quizzes, coloring books, and instructions on how to create compost.
- Kids Composting Toolkit (PDF) – With the help of your parents, you can create rich soil from food trash.
- What Happens to Recycled Glass? – Find out more about what happens to glass materials after you recycle them here.
- Visiting a Recycling Plant (Video) – A good, recycling citizen follows the trail of paper to see what’s done with his recycled trash in this video.
- Recycling FAQ’s – Get your questions about recycling answered here.