Waste reduction is important to all of us. We all have a duty to be responsible with the planet, and it’s a duty that applies to the next generation, as well. This leaves many families wondering how they can get their kids — with their eager minds but short attention spans — interested in creating more eco-friendly trash habits. Relating an issue to kids is certainly a different challenge from relating it to an adult neighbor, but here are a few ways to instill green habits in kids at an early age.

Get Them Involved In Your Own Practices

Do you recycle? Ask your kids to help you take out the recycling each week. Compost? Consider baking or cooking with your kids and instructing them to throw the scraps in the compost bin. We all have certain things that we do because “that’s how I was raised.” For your kids, recycling and composting can be among those. When you go to the store, explain why you don’t purchase paper plates or explain why you rewash your cloth napkins and towels rather than using paper towels. This will help kids to have more understanding and more appreciation for waste reduction from an early age.

Conduct a Home Audit Of Your Waste Habits

With your kids, empty the trash and recycling and go through the different items. Chances are, there are items in your trash can that can be recycled and items in your recycling bin that should be thrown away. Ask your kids to determine which is which, or show them if they’re not sure. This will not only teach them how important recycling is but how to recycle properly, a skill they can take with them into adulthood. Do this a few more times until the kids seem to have a good sense of what to throw away in which bin. You can even make a game out of it, rewarding them for correctly identifying what goes where.

Teach Them Why

Kids love to ask why. They want everything explained to them. As parents, it can be easy to lose patience and say “because I said so.” However, taking the time to explain to your kids why it’s so important to recycle and reduce waste is much more effective. While you don’t have to dip into all the specifics or the bleak realities of climate change, you can explain that too much trash hurts the earth, that plastics release chemicals that hurt the air, and that everyone has a responsibility to take care of the planet. You can even work in children’s books such as You Can Change the World: the Kids’ Guide To a Better Planet by Lucy Bell or The Magic School Bus and Climate Change by Joanna Cole.

Practice Good Waste Reduction Habits Yourself

Your kids watch you and mimic your behavior more than you realize. Make sure you’re setting a good example for them and taking a proactive approach to waste reduction. This involves recycling, of course, but it is not limited to recycling. Buy everyone reusable water bottles or pack lunches in lunch boxes rather than paper bags. Give old clothes and household goods to Goodwill rather than simply throwing them away. Your kids will watch as you do this, and chances are they’ll learn from it.

Get your kids involved with recycling today with the help of Brazos Valley Trash Valet & Recycling, who offers complementary single stream recycling along with our weekly trash pickup. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to subscribe for yourself.