Make waste management fun this school holidays
With Christmas behind us and New Year events ahead, taking care of rubbish and recycling should be everyone's priority as we head into the next century. The holiday season is a great time to make waste management a priority for children. With all the events comes presents, food, family and joy as well as rubbish. To help get you started here is a summary of how to manage your waste.
Cardboard boxes and wrapping paper
These items are ideal to throw in your council recycling bin. These materials break down quickly and can also easily be repurposed at a waste facility (1). Boxes, paper, and cardboard are also wonderful items for kids craft activities over the school holidays. Think painting, storage making, and toy making.
While food scraps cannot be recycled there are ways to dispose of food waste without putting them in the bin. A great way to dispose of food waste is to compost them. Food waste can go on a worm farm, to chickens or can be given to pets. Your dog will be grateful for leftover yummy Christmas treats! Help a child learn the circle of life with food being given to other creatures and animals to help them thrive.
Plastic packaging and wrapping
Crunchy and soft plastic items can be recycled at different locations through the Redcycle program (2). If your plastic is soft enough to crunch into a ball it can be placed into a Redcycle bin for repurposing. Items like bread bags, frozen food and veggie bags, cereal liners and confectionary bags are perfect for this program. Collect your soft plastics with a child over the holiday period and make recycling them an excursion for the day.
Plastic bottles, jars and glass bottles
There are a number of container deposit locations around Australia that will take these items off your hands and pay you in return. Remember to remove all lids before you deposit. Container deposit is an easy way to recycle glass and plastic containers will earn some money in return. Why not put the money aside for the next holiday period and plan a fun activity using the money? A great way to teach children the value of money.
With your waste from Christmas and New Year taken care of you might be wondering how you can further educate your child on waste management? Research has shown that when we think about how waste can be transformed into new products we are more likely to recycle (3). One thing you can do to help kids become part of the solution to global waste issues is to show them that when we recycle properly, waste can be transformed into valuable resources. Why not try some of the following:
Conduct a waste audit
Doing a waste audit with a child can be a wonderful way to highlight waste management issues and bring meaningful changes at home. A great place to start is by asking a child to think about the things they throw away on a daily basis (3). From here discuss if any of these items could be reused, recycled or avoided entirely. Once you have made a summary together, gather one day's worth of rubbish. The following day ask the child to sort the rubbish into separate piles of each category such as paper, glass, soft plastic and so on. Explore together what type of waste makes up the rubbish. Can these be reused or recycled rather then being placed into the rubbish and sent to a landfill? Reuse, recycle or dispose of appropriately. Then observe how the child incorporates the learning into their rubbish disposal. Praise them when they reuse or recycle a product that would have previously been thrown in waste by the child.
Design a recycle bin graphic
Now that the child has connected everyday action to environmental impact you can begin to work together on solutions. It can be enjoyable for children to design their own recycling bin graphics. Research has shown that something as simple as using emotions on bins can assist children to recycle more (3). Encourage the child to have a go. Perhaps the design can be turned into a sticker that you might place on your household bins and collection locations.
Make a composting solution
An excellent way to educate a child on waste being turned into a valuable resource is to start your own composting solution at home. A great place to start is to explore what happens to food when it rots in landfills. Talk about how organic waste is a source of methane that contributes to global warming when placed in a landfill. You can then look at how properly composting food waste helps it to break down naturally and become a food source for animals or a fertilizer for plants. Perhaps you can start a worm farm at home or make a graphic together for your green waste bin.
Brainstorm solutions to waste management
Children thrive when they can be creative. Using photos, or arts and craft encourage a child to brainstorm creative solutions to waste management. Perhaps you could collect some waste from around your home that you would otherwise throw away and ask the child what you might do the with the item? Or maybe you can make an informational poster together that shows what happens to waste using pictures or diagrams. Encourage creativity and see where the child goes.
Make it a game
There is nothing a child likes more than a challenge. If you want to get a child excited about recycling and waste management think of some fun ways to introduce a little competition. An idea may be to implement a plastic-free challenge (3). Maybe the entire household has to try and avoid single-use plastic for a week. At the end of the week, you can talk about how it went and see who avoided the most single-use plastic. Talk about any difficulties and possible solutions or alternatives to single-use plastic. Help the child to learn and see if they have any suggestions for reducing single-use plastic within the home.
Collect recyclable containers
Over a few-week-period, encourage a child to collect any bottles and containers from around the home and store in a container. Once you have a few collected, visit a container deposit location. Talk about how the containers may be recycled, for example, the material may be repurposed into roads. Let the child collect the refund and they can choose to save or spend the money as they like for their efforts.
Container Deposit Systems (CDS) offers the public the opportunity to recycle cans and bottles. The public can turn up to any depot partner, have their bottles and cans sorted at high speed using CDS technology and receive cash on the spot. That's a great way to make some pocket money.
https://www.bundabergnow.com/ 2019/12/25/recycle-right- christmas-period/
https://education.abc.net.au/ newsandarticles/blog/-/b/ 3202170/5-ways-to-inspire- kids-to-reduce-reuse-and- recycle-