Activity Overview: Start a recycling program in your classroom or school.
Time: 15 minutes for the first lesson; 10 minutes per day over one week or more.
Recycling is when you convert waste into a reusable material. The recycled material is processed and transformed into material that can be reused. It’s old material, but good as new!
Recycling is an important way to reduce waste, conserve resources and decrease costs. By reusing materials to create new materials and the amount of waste that we generate. In addition, recycling doesn’t just prevent waste, it helps save energy. For example, recycling steel and tin cans saves 74% of the energy used to produce them.
Clean Food Containers. Rinse out aluminum cans, soda bottles and plastic containers that once held food before placing them in your recycling bin. It may seem insignificant, but food and the residue it leaves behind can prevent entire loads of recyclable materials from being recycled.
Do Your Research. Make sure you are only recycling items that can be recycled where you are. Just because an item can be recycled doesn’t mean it can be everywhere, and placing an unrecyclable item in a recycling container can prevent the rest of the load from being properly recycled.
Know Before You Throw. Pizza boxes, paper towels, napkins, and food-soiled cardboard or paper are not recyclable, but they can be placed in a compost bin or container. Many other items can be recycled but only in certain locations. If you aren’t sure what can be recycled or where, check your local county or municipality’s website.
Work in groups or as a class as appropriate. Looking at common classroom items, make a plan for what to do when no longer using them.
Which items are reused as they are? Are they cleaned first? Which items are thrown away? Could you find another use for these items or others? Which items need to go somewhere else to be reused?
How many uses can different groups find for the same item? Who can find the most uses? Are they realistic? Brainstorm the maximum number of uses from one item.