5 Ways to Teach Waste Management to Kids


“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Native American Proverb

Reduce reuse recycle campaign efforts have made some impact on trying to address pollution issues, but there is still a need for parents to teach children effective waste management.

This is meant to make sure that even into adulthood, they will be more likely to be aware of how their actions impact the world around them. More importantly, teaching waste management for kids with actual information can lead to much better results. 

According to a study conducted about recycling, information on recycling schemes can serve as a motivation as well as a barrier to recycling both at home and in school. 

This highlights the importance of early education on waste management, as well as in providing more accurate information.

What is Waste Management?

In essence, waste management is the separation of various waste materials in their designated categories. These typically come in:

  1. Biodegradable – Waste materials that break down on their own after a short amount of time and can be used as fertilizers.
  2. Non-Biodegradable – Waste materials that either do not break down on their own or take too long to degrade such as electronics, plastic bags, or clothing materials. 
  3. Recyclable – Items that are made of both biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials, but are in a state that allows them to be reused in the same form or another.

However, you might have noticed that those classifications are not exactly cut and dry. Too many times, people get confused as to what can be classified as which, with some regulations providing only vague explanations.

It was noted in a report that kids do want to recycle. They just don’t know how to do so.

“The research says 42% of 18 to 34-year-olds aspire to being good recyclers, but are not confident they are getting things right.”

Suffice it to say, the lack of practical information can be quite the stumbling block towards effective waste management. This is why kids need to be taught about these things early.

Why Manage Waste?

Effective waste management can have a major impact on society on many levels. Too many times, the improper handling of waste disposal, recycling, and transport has caused devastating environmental and economic issues.

Aside from the glaringly obvious benefit of making the world a little cleaner, though, there are plenty of socio-economic advantages that come with recycling. 

For example, the responsible management industry has led to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs all over the world. 

Why Teach Kids Waste Management?

So, the central question now is why you want to teach your child responsible waste management practices. Aside from the fact that it’s the right thing to do, your child will also gain a ton of benefits from doing so. 

Among the most significant of these benefits are:

  1. Learning to be more responsible – Having children be responsible for recycling and waste management gives them a sense of responsibility and consistency. 
  2. Being aware of the consequences of their actions – When you teach your child the importance of waste management, he becomes more mindful of his actions and what its impact will be.
  3. Empowering in caring for the environment – Knowing that there is something he can do to help the environment gives him a sense of purpose and hope that he can make a difference. 
  4. Making them more organized – Segregating waste products requires consideration for what those items are and where they should go, which is a crucial organization skill.
  5. Encouraging to become part of something bigger – Protecting the environment is a group effort and knowing the recycling is a global endeavor helps your child feel like he is participating in major movements.

All of those will help your child come into his own and grow up to become a wonderful person.

How to Teach Kids Waste Management?

With the reasons for teaching your child proper waste management highlighted, it’s time to talk about how this can be achieved, in the first place. 

You can start by taking the following suggestions into consideration:

Make it Fun

Turning waste management into a fun game is pretty much your best bet in making the practice more memorable and interesting. Once you get your child hooked on recycling, it becomes much easier to make it a habit. 

You can create a system that relies on points, for example, where the winner gets awarded with a ribbon, a trophy, or whatever else. 

Add Rewards

Tangible rewards like extended time on his smartphone or video games, going out for ice cream or buying him something he wants can work wonders. However, you need to approach this carefully.

You need to make sure that you don’t make it too easy for him and make the more desirable rewards more difficult to get. This will prevent him from growing entitled. 

Educate Appropriately 

While it is important to educate your child about correct waste management practices and the reasons for it, this must be done appropriately. 

This means doing so in accordance with his age, comprehension, and personality. This is where different mediums like books, movies, social media, and the like can be really useful.

Appeal to His Curiosity

Children are curious creatures and when something catches their interest, they latch on to it.

Use this tendency to make your child want to learn more about recycling by presenting him with materials related to his interest.

If he likes toys, for example, show him examples of recycled toys.

If he likes food, show him how some ingredients are grown as a result of responsible waste management practices. 

Likewise, if he likes books, you can always gift him reading materials like Ayden The Astronaut which I wrote to inspire kids to be more aware of their environment. 

If you are successful, he will just take it from there.

Group Activities

Finally, you can have your child join group activities that are all about recycling. This will help him get a sense of community and he could even form friendships from doing so.

Children might not be able to do much about issues like global warming and pollution right now, but teaching them early can help them do more in the future.

As a parent, that’s one of the best things that you can do for your child’s future.

RELATED: How can Kids Help Prevent Global Warming?

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