When we think about Earth Day, most of us think about recycling! This is a great guide for learning about recycling from Marci at The Homeschool Scientist. She breaks it down for us on why to recycle, what can be recycled, how we can recycle, and more!
We’ve all be taught that recycling is good for the planet. We see commercials about recycling on TV and billboards in our community. We’ve seen recycling containers in public places and we might recycle in our own homes. But, have you ever stopped to think why we recycle? What does recycling really mean? What are the real benefits?
What is recycling?
Recycling is taking waste or discarded material and turning it into something new. For instance, instead of throwing that plastic water bottle into the trash, it can be recycled and made into a new bottle or other plastic item. Your old magazines might visit your house again as part of your cereal box.
Benefits Of Recycling
We say recycling is good for the planet, but what does that mean? What good can saving something from the trash really do? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling benefits the Earth in these ways:
- Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators
- Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals
- Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials
- Saves energy
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations
- Helps create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States.
What can be recycled?
Lots of what we think of as trash can be recycled. The EPA has stated that up to 75% of what we throw away could be recycled, yet we actually only recycle about 30%. Recyclable items include:
- metals – aluminium (beverage cans), tin, steel (canned food)
- paper- cardboard, cereal boxes, office paper, magazines, newspapers, junk mail
Not all municipalities have recycling programs in place for each of these. Check with your local recycle center or municipality.
How Does Recycling Work?
Each community has different types of recycling programs. Some have curbside collections, much like garbage collection, others have drop-off centers. No matter how the recyclables get into the recycle stream, the process from there is similar.
After collection, recyclables are sent to a special facility to be sorted and cleaned. These materials are then sold to manufacturers who use them to create new products.
Look around your house. You probably have products made from recycled materials. Common items that contain recycled materials include:
- aluminum cans
- plastic bottles
- glass containers
- steel cans
- plastic laundry detergent bottles
- cereal boxes
- comic books
- egg cartons
Seeing The Recycling Process Up Close
My kids like seeing how things work. Your kids are probably the same. Here are some ways to get up close and personal with recycling.
- Recycling video resources that let your kids see the recycling process in action
- Schedule a field trip to your local recycling center or collection company
- Start recycling in your own home. Have the kids measure the trash to recycling ratio
Marci Goodwin is a homeschool mama, science geek, rink mom and blogger. You can find more science education inspiration and resources at her blog The Homeschool Scientist, which exists to equip and encourage homeschool parents by taking the fear out of and putting the fun into science education.
Don;t forget to check out more great posts from the Ultimate Earth Day Guide and to check back later for even more’
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!