Reducing Waste for Kids

Truck moving trash in a landfill

Have you ever wondered how much waste you create every day? If you’re anything like the average person in America, you produce about 4.3 pounds of waste per day. That’s equal to one big pair of men’s hiking boots in your trash every day! Now, multiply 4.3 pounds by the 323 million people in America. That’s 1.3 billion pounds of waste thrown away in America every single day. The planet Earth needs your help! You can take action today to help make a better tomorrow. A cleaner, greener future for our world starts with you. How can you help? It’s easy!

At the Grocery Store

One of the most basic ways to cut down on waste is to reconsider what you purchase. The United States produces around 11.9 million tons of plastic packaging in one year. More than 90 percent of this is sent to a landfill after only being used once. Try these tips the next time you go to the grocery store with your parents. Choosing items with recyclable packaging is an easy step in reducing waste. Go on a scavenger hunt in your grocery store to find food with packaging made from 100% recyclable materials. Or take it one step further and buy food items with no packaging at all! Fresh fruits and vegetables usually have minimal packaging, which makes them healthy for both your body and the environment.

At the checkout counter, place your groceries in reusable grocery bags instead of plastic or paper bags. Stock the car with reusable bags. This way, the bags will be ready for your shopping trip at any time! Do you love making crafts and doing other hands-on projects? Try making a reusable shopping bag made from an old T-shirt. It’s waste-free and trendy, too!

In the Garden

Another simple step for reducing waste is to turn your food scraps into garden compost. Did you know that yard and food waste make up 30% of the waste in landfills? Finding another use for food waste is an important part of protecting the planet.

What is compost? Compost is basically a collected pile of any organic, or living, material. As the living matter dies and decomposes, it breaks down into nutrient-rich compost. This compost is perfect for gardening! Making your own kitchen compost pail is easy. Start with an empty tin coffee can or another large tin container. Decorate the outside and add a wire handle. Add your kitchen food scraps into the bucket, then dump the contents of your compost bucket into a compost pile in your yard every day. If you’re not afraid of a little slime, you can use worms to try vermicomposting. When your compost pile is ready, simple mix it into the soil of your garden to grow prize-winning vegetables and flowers. You’re ready to give your food waste a new purpose!

At Home

A third area where you can decrease waste is in your home. Simple switches can make a big difference in reducing waste. For example, try replacing paper towels with cloth towels in the kitchen and bathrooms. Avoid purchasing any household item that is consumable, since it can only be used once. If you have to throw something away after one use, it will go straight to the landfill.

Place a separate bin beside the trash can to make recycling a no-brainer. Does your city provide a recycling service along with regular trash pickup? Sign up for curb-side pickup or find a recycling center near your neighborhood.

In Your Neighborhood and at School

An important part of being a citizen of Earth is learning how to be a good neighbor. Kids like you can lead the way by organizing recycling projects in the community. Join a recycling rally with your school, or focus on smaller projects on your block. There are tons of exciting ways you can impact your community by reducing waste. Organize a clothing drive to help the needy and keep used clothes out of landfills. Walk your streets with a few friends and pick up trash to recycle. Create a community compost pile and garden. You could even complete a science fair project about waste reduction. The possibilities are endless!

The Big Picture

It’s important to think about how reducing waste can change the future of Earth. The key to making recycling a lifelong habit is simple: You have to take it one day at a time. Choose one new step at a time, make it a regular habit, and then add more recycling skills to your toolbox. Soon, you’ll be a recycling professional! As you take action today, you will create a better, brighter future for planet Earth.


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