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The List: 6 Websites to Teach Kids About Recycling and Sustainability

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Raising kids to have good recycling habits is a very important role parents play in fostering sustainability. Here are some fun websites that help.
My kids know to recycle their empty yogurt containers, and they’re good at bringing reusable water bottles to school and sports activities so they don’t have to use disposable cups or buy bottled water. And they’d never dream of littering. ­

But while I’m proud that they have these environmentally responsible habits, sometimes I wonder how much they understand about how their actions help (or could hurt) the environment. At ages 7 and 10, they’re old enough to learn more in-depth about recycling, sustainability, and the importance of reducing the amount of waste we generate — and of minimizing our use of energy and other resources. After all, they’ll inherit this earth, and their generation will have its own set of environmental challenges!

Of course we at Recyclebank strive to be an informative resource, but besides us, there are also some great sites geared especially to help kids better understand some of the complex issues surrounding sustainability. For parents like me, or even for those who want a super-understandable way of learning about the environment, here are a few to check out:

1. A Bag’s Life uses the point of view of a disposable plastic shopping bag to educate kids and adults about recycling plastic bags and other plastic film. The site includes information about what kinds of plastic you can recycle, a video about recycling, and information about holding a recycling event at your school.

2. Keep America Beautiful has a fascinating feature on its site that takes you on the recycling journey of various recyclables, from a shampoo bottle to a steel can. You’ll learn how these products get sorted and processed, and what sort of products they might become. There’s also a game on the site that simulates a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), where you can test your ability to properly sort different types of materials.

3. Learn about clean air on the Environmental Protection Agency’s site, which explains the color-coded air quality levels and what they mean for you. A storybook about a lizard with asthma, viewable online or downloadable, explains what causes air pollution and what can be done to prevent it.

4. The Environmental Education for Kids site, from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is chock-full of information about natural resources, presented with lots of photos and illustrations, quizzes, games, and even poems. An extensive list of videos includes a tour of a landfill, a music video about trees, and a tutorial about making your yard more bird-friendly.

5. Meet the Greens is a stylish site featuring a fictitious animated family that teaches kids about reducing their carbon footprints. Kids can watch short cartoons about the Green family’s efforts to live more sustainably. Kids can also calculate their carbon footprint with information about how their own family lives – an eye-opening measure of how everyday acts, like how you get to school, or how often you shower, can impact the earth.

6. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is a helpful resource for middle-grade kids to learn more about the environment and its impact on our health. The site includes articles, interviews, tips and how-tos. Whether it’s learning about vermicomposting or reading about the science behind pollution, the information is presented in a clear, informative way.

What are your favorite ways to teach kids about the environment? Share your suggestions in the comments below.
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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

  • Travis D. 3 months ago
    The best way to learn is through experience.
  • Deborah W. 3 months ago
    My family and grandchildren have learned by example. A good thing.
  • Micki C. 7 months ago
    Kids learn best by doing. I started a recycling station with a share table at my daughter's school. Most of the students had never been exposed to recycling before. Now they know how and why we recycle and practice everyday. I give tips along the way as different items come up. It is so great to see a child take something from the share table to eat that was destined for the bin prior. I hope all schools do this in the near future.
  • Gina L. 10 months ago
    Kids learn by example. Do your best to recycle all household items in every room. Take the kids along as you recycle things that the local recycle trucks won't take. Start a compost pile, if you don't already have one, and display/instruct its is great for the environment. Another idea is to begin a bee keeping program. We need these dearly.
  • M D. 11 months ago
    Love the idea someone came up with to recycle in the first place!
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