When is the right age to get started on recycling?

When is the right age to get started to learn about, and get started, on recycling?

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

boywithkerbside1 Many parents want to keep their children shielded from the realities of life until they are “old enough to understand”, and this is not just the case as to issues of the environment and climate change. But this is more often than not counterproductive.

Children understand often much better the plight of Mother Earth and often have a much better take on the reuse part of waste management that do we grown-ups often. Let's not forget that children, we at least when I was a child, often do much more reuse and upcycling than anyone would give then credit for and that simply in that they make things from nothing.

I have also seen and heard many a child espouse the reasons for needing to reduce our waste mountain better than many a trained speaker in the green movement.

Reusing and practical recycling was something that I grew up with and it has been part of my life ever since and I look, basically, at every item of waste as a possible resource for me to use.

When did anyone begin to teach me? No one actually did. It was just part of the way we lived and if families live what they preach no one will have to teach the child to reuse and recycle. It will just simply come natural.

Is there a right age to teach it? The answer is to not to bother teaching and preaching but just to explain while doing it and it will all be no effort at all.

But, and this is most important; the adults must be sincere in what they do. Kids soon understand when something is, basically, a sham and will refuse to participate in anything that their elders may just do for show, for them or others.

If there are certain things that you do not put into the recycling bin even though they may be paper or plastic explain to the kids why it is thus. They will have to learn that some materials simply cannot, at present, be recycled and even if it looks like cardboard or paper it may be coated and therefore cannot be recycled or whatever. Not everything that looks like gold is gold.

Reuse and upcycling is something that seem to come rather natural to children and if, while they do it, they understand that it helps Mother Earth than this is so much the better.

Recycling, they must come to understand as well, in the same way as many adults and councils and our very governments have to come to understand it, is the final option when the reduce and the reuse has failed. Recycling, in fact, means that we have failed in the other two “Rs”.

Maybe it is our children that will be able to “force” governments to bring in legislation to make glass containers and the reuse of same compulsory, by reintroducing a deposit scheme for bottles and launching one for glass jars. Or by making companies do it.

In summing up, the answer to the question as to when the ideal age is when to getting started on recycling is that there is none and it should come natural and any child, whatever age, growing up in a household that does all the good green things will learn from and by example.

© 2011