Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Activity: Learn What’s Recyclable

Grade Level:

Activity Overview: Recycling, means to make a material ready for reuse. Many materials can be recycled and turned into materials for reuse. Common recyclable materials are paper, plastic and metal. So how can you be the best recycler?

Time: 45 minutes for the first lesson. 5 minutes per day per week.

Know What You Can Recycle

Paper and cardboard are examples of materials that are always recyclable, as long as they aren’t soiled with food. If they are soiled you should place them in a compost bin.

Learn The Recycling Symbol

This symbol means that a material is recyclable. This symbol is often found on the bottom of recyclable containers.

Clean Your Recycling

Aluminum cans and plastic food containers are commonly recyclable items, but make sure you clean any food or residue off them before placing them in the recycling bin.

Learn What You Can Recycle at Your Home

Do you have a curbside recycling bin at your home? Some bins have what you can recycle listed on the bin, in images or lists. When checking the bin, be sure to consider how old your bin is. Your recycling center may have added recyclable items since your bin was issued. The easiest way to get a list of what you can recycle at your home is to go to your local county or municipality’s website. They will have a list of what you can recycle curbside, as well as what other objects can be recycled and where. Just because you cannot recycle it at home, does not mean it cannot be recycled. Batteries, electronics, and hazardous materials are all examples of items that you cannot recycle at home but you can still recycle.

Recycling Electronics

There are many ways to recycle old electronics. If your device still works, consider donating it to a local school or nonprofit organization to be refurbished, or check to see if your community has an upcoming electronic recycling event. Many electronic companies also have recycling programs, with some even offering discounts on purchases when you turn in old electronics.

Learning to Reuse

Reusing materials can reduce your cost for new materials, reduce the amount of waste you produce and reduce the energy needed to produce new materials. Here is a list of suggestions for things that you can easily reuse in your home.

Ways to Reuse

  • Save shoe boxes and similar sized boxes for wrapping presents and storage.
  • Ribbons and bows aren’t recyclable but you can save them and reuse them in the future.
  • Glass jars and coffee canisters can be used for bulk storage in your pantry, bathroom or office.
  • Old sheets, towels, and t-shirts can be used to create wash rags and cleaning materials for your home.

Can you think of additional ways to reuse materials in your home or classroom?


  • Recycling symbol color sheet
  • Recycling Ranger color sheet
  • Recycling Matching worksheet
    • Instruct students to visit their recycling center site and learn where they can recycle what. Then have a list of: Aluminum cans, paper, batteries, electronics, etc. and they classify each one with where they can recycle it: home, recycling center, special recycling event.
  • Start A Recycling Program in Your Class
    • Get a separate bin for your class and designate it for recycling materials only
    • Do your research and learn what you can recycle at your school. If you don’t have a recycling program at your school, work with teachers and administration to start one.
  • Start A Reuse Program in Your Class
    • Collect old tissue box containers and other receptacles that are often discarded and work with your students to find a new use for them.


SCI.K.1B, SCI.1.1B, SCI.2.1B. SCI.3.1B, SCI.4.1B, SCI.5.1B

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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