5 Ways We Teach Our Children To Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival This post is part of the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction. Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!

In honor of earth day, following are a few specific things we do around our house to reduce, reuse, and recycle the resources we use. Our children see us taking these simple steps every day. It's not anything special; it's just what we do. We also make sure to take the opportunity to talk to the Agents about why these actions are important. Even Agent A knows that certain items get put into certain bins. It's never to early to learn!

I can help with this
1. We reduce the amount of plastic bottles coming into our home. We live in an area (southern Italy) where the water quality is, um, less than stellar. Technically the water on the military base where we live has been deemed "safe" but it is still very hard water with a high mineral content and we choose to use bottled water for drinking and cooking. This, of course, is not ideal, and I wish it were not an issue at all, but alas, this is where we are. At first we were buying water in two-liter bottles. Now we have switched over to refilling containers with water from a reverse osmosis machine. It is much less expensive and we reuse the same three one-gallon jugs instead of buying new plastic bottles of water every week.

2. We shop with reusable grocery bags. We started doing this about four or five years ago, and it was such an easy switch I don't know why we didn't do it sooner. The initial cost per bag was maybe 50 cents? We lost one bag along the way, but the others have held up remarkably well. The biggest issue here is actually remembering to take them to the store! (Hint: If that's a problem, just put them back in the car after you unload groceries.) Now we also use them for transporting our giant stack of library books each week.

3. We reuse at art time. Agents E and J go through a lot of paper with the amount of coloring we do around here. Of course we always print on both sides, but beyond that we find creative ways of using materials from other sources. The round cardboard that comes out of the pizza box is great for painting. Old shoe boxes hold myriad supplies. Leftover paper the movers left lying around did not go to waste. We cut up old boxes no longer sturdy enough for reuse into small "palettes" for them to use while they paint. Toilet paper rolls become mini-telescopes or cute animal characters.

A little after dinner reading
4. We repurpose when we can. When we no longer needed the infant car seat we used for all three Agents, we figured we would take the harness out, remove the cover, and recycle the plastic base. But when we brought it inside to take care of that, Agent J immediately grabbed a book and plopped down in it. Soon she and Agent A were "fighting" over who got to sit in this new, cool lounge chair. So instead of getting rid of it we fashioned it as a little reading nook seat. Perfect for a book party.

5. We recycle paper, glass, metal, and plastic. Even with the best laid plans for reducing what comes into our home, we end up with a lot of paper products, glass bottles, and metal/plastic food containers. We are fortunate to be in an area that recycles just about everything. It saddens me when I go past trash dumpsters on base and see them overflowing with obvious recyclables. The little extra effort to bag up materials to be recycled and take them to the drop off spot is well worth it.

What do at your house to teach your children about caring for the environment?

Thank you for stopping by the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival! Please relax and take time to read these other great eco-living posts:
    Earth Day Blog Carnival - Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction
  • You are a Child of the Earth - Using the Earth as their classroom, Patti from Canadian Unschool teaches her 4 children their spiritual connection to the Earth and she accepts that loving the Earth can get really, really messy.
  • Cutting Out Paper - Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went from curiosity and concern to actually cutting out the use of paper towels in her household. She is proud to be "greener" as each Earth Day passes.
  • The World is Brown - Debra Ann Elliot of Words are Timeless believes in keeping the Earth green, but because so many people inhabit the Earth it is turning brown because people aren't doing their part by reducing, reusing, and recycling.
  • 7 Child And Eco Friendly Activities To Honor The Earth (Plus Some Environmental Books For Kids) - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her favorite books that help children become more aware of the importance of respecting and caring for Mother Earth. In addition, she hosts a guest post outlining seven child and eco friendly activities to honor the earth.
  • 5 Ways We Teach Our Children To Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle - Valarie at Momma In Progress shares a few tips for encouraging young children to care for the earth.
  • Little Changes - Big Results - Meegs at A New Day talks about how sometimes it’s the little decisions and changes that can lead us to find big results, and how she's baby-stepping her way to a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
  • Inspiring the Next Generation - aNonyMous at at Radical Ramblings hopes to inspire her daughter to live a green and sustainable lifestyle, in the same way she was inspired by her high-school science teacher, and talks about the changes her family are making towards this vision.
  • Eco-Friendly Cleansers: Safe For the Environment, Healthy For Every Body - Rebekah at Liberated Family writes about safe and natural alternatives to toxic, household cleaning products..
  • Lightening My Footprint with Cloth Nappies (Diapers) - Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares the biggest eco-choice she has made so far, and why she is so passionate about it.
  • Clutter Free for a Cause - At Living Peacefully with Children Mandy's penchant for decluttering and simple living cuts down on consumerism, taking less of a tole on the Earth.
  • Eco-Parenting: Homemade Bug Spray - Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares a homemade bug spray recipe that helps her family to enjoy the natural world while taking precautions against bug bites.
  • Let the Scales Fall From My Eyes...Just Not Too Quickly - Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about the discomfort of no longer being able to live in denial over how her choices affect the world around her.
  • Fostering Love of Earth - Justine at The Lone Home Ranger instills a love of nature in her daughters by embarking on their first backyard vegetable garden together.
  • Being in Nature - Carrie at Love Notes Mama knows that just being in nature is more than enough.
  • 5 Ways to Pass Down Environmental Values to Your Children - Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares how easy it can be to instill environmental values in your children.
  • Viva Portlandia - Amy at Anktangle writes about the place she lives and loves in: Portland. She describes the ways this green city makes it easy for her family to take care of our earth, and also the steps she's taking to further lessen her family's environmental impact.
  • Conspicuous Conservationism - Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction examines the phenomenon of eco-conscious behavior as a status symbol.
  • Time for Radical Sustainability - Terri at Child of the Nature Isle ponders how she can model a truly sustainable lifestyle for her children and raise them in a way that their environmental consciousness is as natural as breathing!
A big thank you to all of the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival participants!


  1. This is such a fantastic list of blogs to explore! I'm going to bookmark them all.
    At our house, we spend a lot of time honouring nature and watching what is happening in it.
    Then, it's easy to start a dialogue on ways that we can help keep the environment healthy.


    1. Some of these writers I've been "following" for a while (doesn't that sound stalker-ish?) and others are new to me with this carnival. I'm off to try to read some right now . . . Hubby is occupying the Agents with a video chat with Grandma :-)

  2. I love the lounge chair! We should have done that with ours!

    We have a hard time remembering the reusable grocery bags too (and they sure do work well for those library books!). I'm going to have to keep ours in the car - I think that would help a lot. Good advice!

  3. Love this post!

    That lounge chair idea is brilliant. :) I am terrible about remembering grocery bags...that is one area where my husband beats me every time. Think I will definitely have to make it one of my Earth Day resolutions!

    ~Kelly @BecomingCrunchy

  4. We're working on reducing the plastic that enters our home, too—trying to buy things in bulk and use reusable containers whenever possible. I love the idea of reusing materials for art purposes...I'll definitely keep that in mind, as Daniel is really getting into drawing and coloring lately. Thanks!

  5. Great post. I definitely have to talk to Gwen more about why we do the things we do (compost, recycle, use reusable bags, turn off lights when we leave rooms, etc). I'm glad that she's seeing it and will learn to do it, but the whys that are obvious to me, aren't to her yet. I definitely have learn to talk the talk as much as I walk the walk!

  6. Reusing art is key! My 3 year old goes through so much paper and I am working with her to understand the importance of using every space available on the paper. Now that the weather is warm, I encourage art in nature. Painting/drawing/creating on rocks, the sidewalk, lawn, etc,,, is very eco friendly and lots of fun!

  7. Love this, and totally agree with your philosophy of leading your children by example, I have found my young son gets excited about recycling too :)

  8. This post is such a great reminder of the little steps we can take to create a "greener" household. I especially appreciate the reminder about reusing art supplies, as sometimes I find it is just too tempting to throw all those fragments of craft paper into the bin rather than considering creative ways of re-using them!