Recycling Tips for Families | 3 Easy Ways to Recycle More
This post is sponsored by Nature Valley, but all opinions are my own.
As an eco-conscious family, we have participated in recycling programs for many years. We recently began composting as well, to reduce food waste and add organic nutrients to our little garden. But we started thinking — what are some ways we can recycle more? We learned that we were missing a huge piece of the recycling puzzle! Today we are sharing our recycling tips so your family can strengthen your recycling habits too!
How to Start Recycling at Home
If your family hasn’t yet started recycling at home, it isn’t too late! If your city offers curbside recycling, you can start by getting a recycling bin for your home. Check to see which recyclables are allowed (typically paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, and rigid plastics such as milk jugs and yogurt containers are accepted). Then as your family uses these products, just rinse out any residue and toss them in!
If your city doesn’t yet have curbside recycling, check online for your closest recycling drop-off center.
As a family, check out some library books or read some facts online about why recycling is important. For my kids, it helped them to see pictures of animals in polluted areas or large piles of garbage. We don’t want to live like that, so we are doing our part to make a difference!
Whether your family is experienced with recycling or just beginning, it’s easy to strengthen your recycling habits together.
1. Teach Kids Which Items are Recyclable
One of the easiest ways to make sure you recycle more is by teaching your kids which items are recyclable.
I don’t know about you, but just getting my kids to put their trash in the trash can was a parenting accomplishment in itself! The only problem was… then everything went into the trash, whether it was recyclable or not.
(We’re still working on getting laundry into the hamper. If you figure out how to make that happen, let me know.)
In our kitchen, we have a set of bins – one for garbage and one for recyclables. I created a visual chart with images of things my children use and toss the most, and then we went over the items together to make sure they understood.
We even had a few sample pieces of “trash” for them to practice sorting the garbage from the recyclables!
But there was one new recyclable item that was new to us all!
I recently learned about recycling plastic film – something that I previously didn’t realize was even recyclable! While shopping for Nature Valley Granola Bars at Walmart, I noticed that they had new packaging. In the corner of the box was an image that said “Store Drop Off” and “Recyclable Crunchy Bar Wrappers.” I was intrigued and had to learn more.
It turns out that Nature Valley Crunchy Bar Wrappers are now made with plastic film that is store drop off recyclable, just like plastic grocery store bags. In addition to those, I learned that we can also recycle bread bags, produce bags, dry cleaning bags, and sandwich bags – just by dropping them off in-store!
We added these plastic film recyclables to our recycling chart and started a new bin just for our store drop off materials. It felt so good to know we were able to recycle even more than before!
2. Reuse Items When Possible
In addition to recycling, we also encourage our kids to reuse items whenever possible. I keep a stack of used printer paper next to the coloring books. This makes it easy for the kids to grab a piece of paper when they want to draw a picture or practice writing. They just ignore whatever is printed on the front and create their masterpiece on the back!
We also have fun using cardboard for lots of projects, big and small. We recently used a couple of large boxes (such as a large paper towel box and a large delivery box) to create cardboard “cars” for an indoor drive-in movie night. It was a blast and the kids loved it! Toilet paper roll crafts are a hit too, and are super easy. Everyone has toilet paper rolls, and using them for a quick and easy craft is one way to get an extra use out of them before they are tossed.
You can see more of our cardboard craft ideas and toilet paper roll crafts here!
We also reuse plastic grocery bags for other things, like lining our small trash cans, picking up dog poo outside, or even to help sort and protect our Christmas lights before storing them away.
Socks and old t-shirts can become dust rags. Old photo frames can be painted and repurposed into chic decor. Even old furniture or an old cheese grater can be brought back to life with a new use!
Make it fun by seeing how creative you can be before tossing an old item out.
3. Shop for Items with Recyclable Packaging
I’ve previously mentioned how our family intentionally shops for foods with flexible packaging, as it is one way to be more eco-friendly and help reduce food waste. Now I know I can take it one step further by seeking out our favorite foods from brands that use recyclable packaging as well!
In a perfect world, we could grow all of our own food and would never have to use packaging at all. But let’s be real. I’m a busy mom, and I’m betting you are too! Our family has certain foods that we love that comes in a package. By making a choice to buy foods that use recyclable packaging, I am doing one more thing to keep waste out of the garbage.
Those little efforts can make a BIG impact, especially when we all make that effort.
Will You Join Us?
Remember, you can start today and begin making new small changes in your home. Begin with getting the whole family involved (make it a game!) and see how many things can be recycled each week.
Already an experienced recycler? Take it up a notch! One fun challenge is the “one bag” challenge, where you try to keep your garbage down to just one bag per WEEK, with all other waste being recycled or composted.
Check your local Walmart for Store Drop-Off Recycling. Look for the Store Drop-Off How2Recycle label to find plastic film that can be included with your grocery bags. Then recycling is super easy! Just bring in your new recyclable Nature Valley Crunchy bar wrappers and other specialty plastics or film packaging and drop them in the bin at your local Walmart. Click here to buy Nature Valley Crunchy Bars!
How will your family add in little efforts to make a big impact? Here’s a link to learn more and start making a change with Nature Valley.