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Four Activities To Turn Your Students Into Recycling Champions

How teachers can make recycling fun in the classroom

The classroom is always a good place to learn and practice good behaviors. And when it comes to recycling food and beverage cartons, that’s no different! With all the juice and milk cartons young children consume at school, grade schools can make a significant impact on the environment when they contribute to a community’s recycling efforts. By introducing your students to recycling, you’ll help them learn the importance of doing their part for the environment, and they’ll develop eco-friendly habits that will last a lifetime. Below are four fun activities that teachers like you can use in the classroom to encourage your students to recycle.

1. Discuss with your students the importance of recycling
Have a recycling circle discussion with your students about how paper and cartons (like their juice and milk cartons) come from trees. Explain that when they reuse and recycle items like cartons, it reduces the number of trees that need to be cut down, preserving the trees to keep our air clean and our planet healthy. Recycling also gives cartons the opportunity for a second life as a tissue box or toilet paper. Lastly, remind them that recycling helps reduce waste and keep our planet clean.

2. Make recycling accessible in your classroom
Create recycling bins with the help of your students. Ask three to four students to bring in cardboard boxes from home, big enough to fit a few items. Divide your students into three groups, have them label each bin (paper, plastic, cans, etc. according to how your area sorts recycling) and add pictures to the outside of the box of recyclables that belong in that bin. Explain how placing everything in the right bin helps the recycling facility process items more efficiently, and hang this sign to remind them how to recycle their cartons.

Bonus idea: Print out this activity sheet for younger students or this activity sheet for older students. They’ll love seeing how your school can make a positive impact on the environment.

3. Friendly recycling student competition
How many food and beverage cartons do you and your students recycle each week at school? Find out by having your students fill out a weekly chart (download it here). Make it a friendly competition with other classes to see who recycles the most and reward the winning team with a prize!

Bonus idea: Get your students’ parents involved in collecting prizes. Ask them to donate unused or unwanted items to the competition prize bag. Share a few examples of the items you want such as toys from kid meals, freebies from conferences, and other odds and ends that are student-friendly, and you’ll be surprised at the items you can collect. Collect all items into a “prize bag.” Students will love picking a reward from the prize bag when they hit different recycling milestones.

4. Take a field trip to your local recycling center
Students love field trips. Call your local recycling facility and schedule a tour for your students. You can find your local recycling facility by entering your school’s zip code here. A recycling facility tour is a great way to educate your students about what happens to items after being placed in the recycling bin and how they are made into new materials such as tissue boxes and writing paper.

Teachers, share your classroom stories with us via social media by using #recycleyourcartons. For more resources about carton recycling in your school, visit our website here.