Recycling was not part of my everyday routine growing up. To this day, the act of recycling is a conscious one for me. I have to stop, look at the waste that needs disposed of and determine whether or not it is recyclable. Yet this act is almost second nature for my children, who have been thinking about recycling for years now. If we want to change our nation into a population of recyclers, then we have to start ’em young. We have recycling receptacles set up in our home, and my children see them when they are out in public. However, this isn’t enough, in my opinion. Recycling needs to be an active part of their daily routine, which includes recycling at school and at after-school activities, in addition to recycling at home and in the community. The elementary school that my children attend has an active recycling program. The third-grade students are in charge of collecting the recycling bins from individual classrooms and offices on a weekly basis. The recyclable waste is then collected into a single container and picked up by the local waste management company. All of the students in the school, from kindergarteners through sixth graders, see recycle bins in their classrooms, the cafeteria, the office and even the nurse’s office. This visual reminder of recycling helps imprint the importance of the act. It doesn’t stop when school is out, though. The ballet studio that my daughter attends has a hallway lined with several different recycling bins. Above each bin is a note reminding students that the bin is for recyclables only. Even the youngest students know that the plastic bottles go into the recycle bin and not the trash. When you grow up with something being a part of your everyday routine — in this case, recycling — then anything different is abnormal. For my children and their classmates, recycling is a normal and almost subconscious act.
Recycling: Start ’em Young
The answer to making an avid recycler: Simply start recycling at a young age.