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  • Writer's pictureElm Hill Academy

The Three R’s to Recycling: How to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Teaching your child how to recycle is one of the easiest ways to introduce social responsibility and empathy. Recycling shows kids how to appreciate the environment they live in and to take care of something that benefits those around them. With National Recycling Day on Sunday, let’s take some time to explore what the three R’s stand for when recycling.

child playing with boxes


This practice is all about minimizing the amount of waste we produce on a daily basis. When we reduce, we eliminate the need to reuse or recycle because we’re only using the amount we need. Learning how to reduce waste can be a great lesson to teach your child how to live in a more environmentally friendly way, making it a habit that can last into adulthood.  Some examples of reducing waste include:

  • Metal Straws- this can help cut down on the use of plastic straws, which end up polluting our oceans. 

  • Reusable Water Bottle- helps reduce the amount of plastic being used.

  • Buying in Bulk- reduces food packaging waste.

  • Planting a garden- pick your food right from the vine and save from using packaging materials.

  • Go paperless. Most bills can be paid online, cutting down significantly on the amount of paper being used.

  • Turning the water off- when you're brushing your teeth, turn the water off in between rinses.


When we reuse, we are taking a material that was intended for one use and using it in another way. This can be useful when you have a material or item that’s still in good shape to be used again. Reusing an item for the same or different intended purpose is a great example when it comes to teaching your child how to get the most out of the things they already have. Some other examples of reusing materials include:

  • Tupperware or Empty Jar – can be used as containers for leftover food or to hold items.

  • Cloth Napkins- instead of using disposable napkins, buy some cloth napkins for your family.

  • Gift Bags- ever get a gift bag and tossed it out? Next time save it and reuse it for a new gift!

  • Lunch Bag- instead of relying on a disposable plastic or paper bag, use a reusable bag to help protect our environment.

  • Old T-shirt- can be used as a cleaning rag

recycle symbol with plastic water bottle


When you can't reduce the amount of waste or reuse it for an additional purpose, recycle it! This is the most common term when referring to the three R’s of recycling due to widespread recycling programs being managed at the state and local levels. This practice can be a fun way for you and your child to learn about the different types of materials that can be recycled. It’s a good idea to separate recyclable materials from your trash and place them in designated recycling bins. Some examples of recyclable materials include:

  • Newspapers

  • Plastic

  • Glass

  • Aluminum

  • Food

  • Clothing

Now that we talked a little bit about what each of the three R’s stand for, you can start implementing some of these strategies in your own home and start exposing your child to some of these habits. It’s a good idea to walk through each step of recycling to your children so they can have a better understanding of what each category consists of. With that being said, we wish you a happy and productive National Recycling Day!

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