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Kids & Recycling: They Can Help!

Boy with recycling

We all want to recycle. But when you're super busy, sometimes that extra step just doesn't happen. Ditch the guilt, and turn recycling into a fun family project. Not only will your child develop an important habit, but if you talk about why you're separating all those bottles and cans (and what happens to that trash if you don't) chances are he'll start to keep you in check! Teach him the basics, and then put him in charge of items that aren't breakable, like paper and plastic bottles. Take care of glass yourself. Make sure you label the bins you use to separate items so it's really easy for your child to remember what goes where. For younger kids, put photos on the containers to make it clear. Older kids can take the recycling out to the curb -- and if your town doesn't have a pickup program, bring your child with you to the recycling center. Once your new routine's in full swing, you'll save time -- and help save the earth too!

Print and save these guidelines on how -- and what -- to recycle.

  • Rinse out plastic and glass containers, and remove caps.
  • Flatten all boxes.
  • Always check with your town. Rules can vary based on what your local facility can process.

You can usually recycle...

  • aluminum and steel cans
  • cardboard boxes
  • most plastic bottles
  • paper such as newspapers, magazines, and junk mail
  • glass bottles and jars
  • paper -- and sometimes plastic -- bags

You can almost never recycle...

  • plastic wrap
  • Styrofoam and other foam products
  • aerosol cans
  • items with food residue (like pizza boxes and take-out containers)
  • paper with glue or adhesive

You can usually find a special service for...

  • batteries
  • computers
  • appliances
  • paint
  • wire hangers

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the March 2008 issue of Parents magazine.