Children take up a large part of the population. As a teacher, you have a responsibility and a desire to help your students be responsible citizens. One easy way they can do that is by learning to recycle at a young age. Habits learned in youth often stay with children as they become adults. But sometimes it seems difficult to get a group of children excited about something so invisibly rewarding as recycling. But that doesn't mean it's not possible. Here are a few things you can do to motivate young students to recycle.
Start a Lunchtime Recycling Program
One of the biggest sources of trash in an elementary school is lunchtime waste. Much of that waste comes from plastic serving trays, plastic utensils, and milk cartons. It might seem like a tall order to ask young children to scrape off their plate and recycle the rest. But you can at least improve recycling by making a game out of it. Bring in recycling bins (clearly marked recycling) and place two next to each other. Place a picture depicting two popular movies, TV characters, or books. Ask students to "vote" for their favorite one by placing recyclables in the can. Mix it up by changing the pictures daily or weekly.
Make a Game of It
Lunchtime is great, but how can you get students to recycle in your own classroom? Try to make a game of it by getting other classrooms involved. Have a contest (for a week, a month, a semester, or even the entire school year) to see who can recycle the most. Keep track of one specific item (like bottles or pounds of paper) to make it easier, or simply measure by bins. Whichever class recycles the most at the end of the contest wins a prize and a trophy.
Raise Funds Through Recycling
Often students can earn money by recycling. Why not incentivize them with money? Take your class to a recycling center so they can see the process first-hand. Explain to them that certain recycled materials yield money from the recycling center. Raise money by recycling and pool the money to achieve a class-decided goal. Creating a goal helps kids get motivated, especially when they decided on the item that will be bought. Save up for something small like a class pet or something big like a class iPad.
Through your efforts, you can help dozens, if not hundreds, of children learn the joy of recycling. Use the tips above to make it fun. Click here for more information about recycling.