Get Kids Recycling at School: Create a School Recycling Program

Recycling in classroom

When school is in session, if your student is not already overwhelmed with sports, clubs, and music programs, then starting or helping with a school recycling program would be a terrific extra-curricular, educational activity.

Recycling teaches kids important lessons about the environmental impact of everyday life. Incorporating recycling into school life helps kids think about their role in creating a sustainable environment for future generations.

Getting kids recycling is easier than they may think. Here are some steps to start a school recycling program or to support existing recycling.

School Recycling Starts at Administration

Starting a school recycling program is much easier with the support of the administration, so that’s usually the first stop. Getting kids recycling provides a valuable scientific and environmental learning experience for everyone involved, something any administration could get behind.

Assess the Need for Recycling at School

A good early step in creating a school recycling program is an audit to identify the quantity and types of waste in each part of the school—classrooms, offices, cafeterias, libraries, and so on. This assessment eventually will help identify where the school’s recyclables are generated.

Get Kids Recycling the Right Materials

When creating a school recycling program, it’s important to determine which materials are accepted for recycling in the area. Earth911 is a great resource to find local recycling facilities. The city or county Recycling Coordinator (usually listed under solid waste, environmental protection or public works on a community website) and the local recycling hauler should be able to identify what materials are accepted for recycling. They also may provide suggestions on how to run the school recycling program and may even help with equipment for collecting recyclables.

Create a Kids’ Recycling Team

A student recycling coordinator and support team could help implement the school recycling program, and it is an effective way to encourage all students to recycle. Or an after-school recycling club including faculty and parents could work with the school custodial staff to create a collection system and encourage participation.

Make Recycling Bins Easy to Find and Use

To make it as easy as possible for students and faculty to recycle, recycling containers should look different than trash bins and be just as widely available. Adding pictures of recyclables— plastic bottles, paper, aluminum cans—on or near the school recycling containers helps everyone identify the right place for the right recyclables.

Those are some basic steps to create a school recycling program, although every program is different. Recycling can and should be part of every school, business and home—and starting as kids is a great way to instill this ethic.