The next generation is an important bunch when it comes to the future of recycling. We know that children care a lot about the environment, with eight in ten young people more concerned about climate change than anything else.
We also know that talking to children about sustainability, climate change and recycling can be daunting, especially when speaking with younger kids. So here at Beyond the Box, we’ve gathered some top tips to help adults across the UK support the next generation – and channel their concerns into practical action that will help them grow up to be the sustainability superstars of the future.
(Role) Model Behaviour
A good starting point to help children become conscious about recycling is to set a good example for them to follow. Kids are always listening and observing what adults do, mirroring their behaviour.
In fact, Beyond the Box research also suggests that it’s in our nature to behave like those around us – and we are more likely to recycle to impress an authority figure in our lives. (Did you know a third of us think that people who recycle are kinder?)
All this means that it’s easy for kids to pick up on adults’ good habits, so bear this in mind as you recycle your cardboard packaging, never drop your litter and make more sustainable choices every day, like packing bags to take to the shops.
Even if you don’t have children of your own, don’t underestimate the importance of being an example to the children around you. From nephews and nieces to godchildren and neighbours, you can make a positive impact on the children in your life simply by making sustainability a priority in your own life.
Back to basics
Sustainability and recycling can be an overwhelming topic of conversation to tackle with little ones, so our tip? Start with the basics.
Why not start by explaining the process of recycling to children, what it entails, and why it’s important. We have plenty of information about recycling unwanted carboard and what makes the UK’s sustainable packaging choice so special – did you know that cardboard is the most widely recycled type of packaging?
It can also be helpful to relate the importance of recycling to their local environment, as this is something they experience every day. The more time they spend enjoying their natural surroundings and talking about the benefits of the beautiful outdoor spaces they have, the more they’ll develop an understanding of the importance of looking after our environment.
From reading books to watching your favourite David Attenborough documentary, or browsing the internet, there’s a whole host of resources available, aimed at a variety of different age groups, to help you discuss sustainability and climate change and engage with the kids in your life.
Make it child’s play
Getting the kids involved in recycling has never been easier!
Make sure that your recycling bins are accessible, labelled and easy to identify. This will give children the opportunity to start helping with separating household waste, which is a simple start on their sustainability journey. rom washing out plastic containers and helping take the rubbish out to flattening cardboard boxes, every little helps. Plus, the more kids do it, the better the chances it will turn into a habit for life.
You may also want to try reusing your rubbish more creatively: reuse cardboard packaging in arts and craft sessions before adding it to your recycling bin and why not create plant pots from old plastic bottles and aluminium trays?
Finally, some local councils host visits to their recycling centres. This is a great way to learn how different materials are collected and recycled and helps bring to life the journey of all our recycling, including the humble cardboard box.
Looking for more tips on how to up your recycling game? Check out Beyond the Box’s inspiration page for even more ways to help the environment and how to recycle the right way!