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Trash Talk! How Sifting Through Garbage With Your Kids Teaches Them To Care For The Environment

Apr. 5 2021, Published 3:09 p.m. ET

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"Mom, what can we do to stop global warming?"  

20 years ago this wouldn't have been a question kids asked; today it is a common refrain — and it's a good question. 

But even if your children aren't curious about the environment, it's still important that you help them become environmentally conscious. 

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According to The Environmental Magazine, since conversations about the environment has become so politically charged in recent years, "it’s even more important to teach children about the environment and sustainability at home. Without action, the environment will suffer — and each generation along with it."

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According to an article by Rubicon, a company dedicated to helping the environment through technological means, "nine-tenths of all solid waste in the United States does not get recycled," and "although 75% of America’s waste is recyclable, we only recycle around 30% of it." This shows that simple acts of reducing waste and recycling could go a long way towards making the Earth a healthier place to live. 

One of the first steps towards getting your kids more involved in reducing waste is to help them — and you! — become more aware of what's in your trash by taking a trash inventory.

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There are two main ways to do this. 

The first, and simplest, method is to place a clipboard near your trash can with a checklist on it. Every time someone throws an item in the trash, they mark it on the checklist. After a few days, analyze the list. Are there items you are throwing away that could be recycled or composted? Do you need to switch to glass bottles instead of plastic or real plates instead of disposable ones? 

The second way to look into your trash is faster — but dirtier. As a family, lay a tarp out in your yard, don gloves and dump your kitchen trash on it. Work together to sort the waste — plastics, vegetable peals, paper goods, etc. Then, have a discussion about which items could be reduced, reused or recycled. 

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It may not seem like it, but digging in your trash with your kids will go a long way towards making this world a better place.

As consumers, you have the power to decide what will happen with your trash. As parents, you have a responsibility to teach your children to become global citizens who care for the planet. Parenting guru L.R. Knost agrees, reminding parents it is their responsibility to raise children who make the world "a little less cruel and heartless."


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