By Mariza Halliday
As parents, we all want our children to have a safe and sustainable future. While it sometimes feels like it is completely out of our control what happens down the line, one of the best ways to ensure that there will be a healthy planet for future generations is to teach our children about sustainability, living a green life and recycling now. This will ensure that they grow up with awareness about waste and an appreciation for preserving our planet’s limited resources.
Recycling might seem like a daunting task, but to keep our environment safe and to decrease landfill space we must understand the importance of implementing it in our homes. Recycling should be an important part of our daily lives to make a lasting impact on the environment. Not only will we create a cleaner, safer environment for ourselves – but also for generations to follow. Children can learn the importance of recycling and sustainability from an early age and can participate in family recycling efforts.
We have compiled a list of 5 tips to get your child involved and to teach them about recycling in a fun and educational way:
1 The best way is always to lead by example. The example you set as a parent and the attitude you have towards tasks are what your kids will learn from, more than what you try teaching them through words. Your words are not what they remember – they remember who you are. Be consistent and explain to your kids what you’re doing when you recycle and how it works.
2 Show kids the fun side of recycling by making something new out of old materials. You can make
a bird feeder out of plastic bottles, a sock dispenser out of an empty tissue box or use your empty yogurt tubs and egg cartons to create a robot! The possibilities are endless, and your child will see ‘garbage’ in a whole new light!
3 Try to avoid single-use plastic wherever possible and replace it with recyclable glass to save our
environment and marine life. If single-use plastic cannot be avoided, then there is a simple way to turn your waste into green construction material. EcoBricks help keep plastic out of the landfills and our oceans, and it is a fun way to get the kids involved in a worthy cause. An EcoBrick is a plastic bottle packed very tightly with waste that is nonbiodegradable. These bottles are then used as building materials to create sustainable homes, schools, and furniture. There are several drop-offs
locations across South Africa where you can take your completed EcoBricks. You can visit www.aquarium.co.za for more info on how to create your EcoBrick and to view the various drop-off points.
4 Keep it clean! Take your kids to a park or beach and point out the garbage on the ground. Explain how this can affect wildlife. For example, birds might eat garbage and get sick. Bring some black bags and pairs of disposable gloves to help clean it up. Reward them afterwards, help them understand what a good deed it is to keep our planet clean and litter free.
5 Recycle Paper… Keep it clean, dry and in a separate bin or bag. By recycling paper products, we not only keep a useful raw material out of a landfill, but we ensure that the paper fibre stays clean and dry for manufacturers to make new paper packaging, the kind we use every day. According to RecyclePaperZA, South Africa’s paper recycling association, more than 150,000 people are employed because the country farms trees, make paper products and recycles them. Mpact makes recycling paper easy through their Ronnie Banks that are located strategically at schools throughout South Africa. They also offer a free Recycling Kerbside Paper Pick-Up Programme in certain designated areas in Gauteng.
Recycling doesn’t have to be a pain.
Teaching our kids how simple a waste-free life can be is our responsibility as parents and as
citizens of this planet. Let’s be the change we want to see in the world.