More and more councils are collecting recycling now, which makes recycling household waste easier than ever. However, before you pop them in the recycling bins, how about you have a bit of play time first! It will be fun, and introduce the idea of recycling as a positive activity
After lots of loud, exciting, destructive (!) play... see who can throw all the bits and pieces into the recycling bins.
It is amazing how much children love making things out of old cardboard and boxes - they can create great buildings, instruments and who knows what else just with a few tubs and a bit of tape! Here are a few ideas if you need some inspiration to guide them:-
Why do modeling?
Over the last few years, the quantityof packaging surrounding food we buy has grown and grown - plastic cartons, film sleeves, cardboard boxes, moulded supports and, in some cases, all of the above! We may be recycling more and more, but why do the supermarkets use so much packaging which we then just throw it in the recycling bins?
Why so much packaging?
How can we help?
Older preschoolers can be taught about different materials and where they come from. They should also be taught about the scarcity of resources and the value of recycling. When we grew up as children, recycling was almost unheard of and we thought there was enough oil to make plastic for generations to come. Only more recently have we realised that the earth's resources are finite, and our children should have this sense of scarcity instilled in them from their earliest years so that consideration for resource use and the importance of recycling just become a part of their everyday thinking.
What steps can we take to help instill this knowledge? On a shopping trip, and when disposing of the resulting packaging and other waste, take the steps outlined below and explain to your little one why you are doing each:-
It's worth doing your bit even if it takes a little extra effort. To really make you feel good, why not save some cartons and boxes and let your little one loose on them. Explain about recycling to them and try to encourage them to recycle too.
So, Christmas is over - how much packaging have you had to dispose of? Is it just our imagination, or do children's toys seem to come with kilo's of superfluous packaging? In Germany shoppers are entitled to unpackage goods at the checkout and leave the mess for retailers to dispose of. That has encouraged manufacturers of all goods to reduce the amount of packaging they use - supermarkets and retailer's simply won't stock overpackaged goods. We think that's a great idea!
Amazon.com, in the USA, offer over 350 products in 'frustration-free packaging'. These are the same regular products available as normal, but in an easy-to-open box that is easily recycled and doesn't recquire an additional package to be mailed out in. They work with manufacturers directly so that these goods are never over-packaged off the production line. There are none of those annoying clips, wires, screws and other protective gizmo's that make it nigh on impossible to extract your children's new toys from their packaging. It's better for the consumer, better for the environment, and it has to be cheaper for the manufacturer. What a great idea! We think Amazon should extend this to all their markets!
No doubt you're clearing up all the children's Christmas presents and throwing away all the surplus packaging from their new toys and other gifts? This is a great opportunity to teach kids about recycling. The average house uses six trees worth of paper each year - if we all recycled paper we'd save a lot of trees! What else can be recycled? Paper, cardboard, drinks cans, food tins, plastic bottles, plastics, clothes, shoes, fabrics, glass, jars and even tin foil can be reycled.
It is important that children know about recycling and the impact we have on our environment. Introduce them to the idea of recycling and reusing at an early age and they'll become practiced at behaving responsibly. And, if you make it fun, it won't become a chore!
As well as traditional recycling, you can reuse materials for fun actvities, here are some of our ideas:-
Activity 1: Place all your Christmas packaging on the floor and sort it into piles: cardboard, plastic, fabric, paper etc and encourage your child to sort with you! Explain how different things are made from different resources and have your children feel and experience the different materials.
Activity 2: Get all the Christmas boxes, plastic tubs and sturdy glass jars and make music! Use wooden spoons to bang on the items like drums. Fill glass jars with water and tap gently to make another musical sound!
Activity 3: Cut out some of the pictures on used wrapping paper, or the characters on the packaging of a new toy and create a picture collage or a few decorations for your tree! Throw on some glitter and it will look great! Stick them to card and start making Christmas cards to send next year.
Activity 4: Chat about the fact that things in the home are made from raw materials. Try and find out what things are made from: some are easy to guess. Leather looks and feels like skin. Do your children know where wooden items come from? But, a plastic bottle or a plastic toy car? What's that made from? You'd never guess that it's made from oil! It's not wet and sticky and black!
Activity 5: Start a compost bin. Talk about what can go into a compost bin (organic waste) and what can't (foil, bags and food packaging). Get a few fresh hardy vegetables (carrots, potatoes, sprouts) and some packaging in a pile. Ask your children to sort it ready for the compost bin and see if they get all the food stuffs in!
When we were kids, batteries lasted 5 minutes, and they would leak if left unused for any length of time - luckily both electronics and batteries have improved since then and dead batteries are far less common than in our childhood! There's still a baffling choice available when it comes to buying batteries, with some lasting better than others.
Rechargeable batteries are more expensive than single use ones, but they can be recharged between 100 and 1,000 times. In the long run they represent better value for money, and lead to fewer regular batteries being discarded in waste. The two most common types of rechargeable battery are Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH). Always choose batteries with NiMH on the packet - they don't suffer 'memory effect' and don't lose nearly as much charge whilst not being used. Also look at the power rating on the packet which is expressed as a number of 'mAH'. The higher this is, the better! For AA batteries look for a rating of 2,000 mAh or higher, for AAA batteries, choose 1,000 mAh or above. The higher this rating, the longer the battery will last between charges.
Some toys specifically state that rechargeable batteries are not suited to them. There could be a genuine reason for this because rechargeable batteries offer lower voltages than disposable batteries. AA and AAA disposable batteries are 1.5v, but rechargable ones are 1.2v. This means that rechargeable batteries may not deliver the voltage required for your toys. The voltage delivered by all battery types gets lower as the battery is used, and high-drain toys require higher voltages to run properly. As a general rule, toys that have moving parts driven by motors will consume the most electricity. There's no harm in trying rechargeable batteries - if they work, they work!
If you do have to go for disposable batteries, buy alkaline batteries rather than zinc based ones - the packaging should state 'Alkaline'. Non-alkaline batteries have a poorer shelf life as they discharge whilst not being used, so the longer they have been sat in the shop, the less power you're taking home with you!
Disposing of any battery type in regular waste is damaging to the environment as they all contain harmful metals that should not end up in landfill. All batteries should be taken to waste collection points or recycling depots - they may not be recycled, but they will be disposed of safely. In the EU, any store that sells batteries is now required by law to accept old batteries for recycling under electronic waste (WEEE) regulations.
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