Simple Tips for Teaching Kids to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

There are many ways to help teach children about how they too can create positive changes for our environment. One of the easiest ways is to simply lead by example. When we do this, we’re not only showing and teaching our children how to do certain things each day, we’re helping them formulate lifelong green living habits.

A great place to begin is to talk to your children about the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Kick off the conversation by asking them this one simple question:

“Have you ever wondered what happens when you throw something away?”

Once you start talking about it, follow-up with these simple explanations and tips to help them learn better ways to reduce, reuse and recycle — instead of just tossing something away and sending it off to the landfill.



Stainless steel PlanetBox lunch boxes are ideal for packing lunch on the go.

Why it’s important: When we reduce the overall amount of things we buy and use on a daily basis, we’ll have less to throw away. When we avoid making garbage in the first place, we don’t have to worry about disposing of waste or recycling it later.

Examples about how we can reduce our waste:

  • Use both sides of a piece of paper when writing or coloring
  • Skip the juice box or bottled water and use reusable cups or bottles instead
  • Bring your own reusable bags to stores/decline a disposable bag for just 1-2 items you can carry
  • Bring lunch to school in a lunch box instead of a disposable paper bag
  • Only take servings of food you’re sure you’ll eat



Clean and reuse a soup can to create perfect sized containers for storing art supplies.

Why it’s important: Reusing means to use the same item as many times as you can instead of throwing it out and using a new one each time.

Examples of how to reuse:

  • Borrow a book from the library or from a friend instead of buying a new one
  • Pass on clothing you’ve outgrown to a younger brother or sister or to others who can use them
  • Donate old toys that are still in working condition to a charity
  • Use old containers, glass jars, or tin cans to hold pencils, markers or paintbrushes
  • Reuse gift bags from holidays and birthdays


Why it’s important: To recycle means to find new ways to use old things. Set up a small bin in your kitchen or garage and teach your children about household items that can go into the recycling bin instead of the trash. If you aren’t already recycling at home, now is the time to start! Check with your town to learn about possible recycling services, or call Waste Management at 205-841-2740 to arrange for curbside recycling. You can also bring recyclables (even glass) to the new Alabama Environmental Center’s Recycling Center.

Examples of items that can be recycled:

  • Plastic water bottles
  • Detergent bottles
  • Cereal boxes
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Plastic yogurt cups
  • Plastic toys


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