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How to teach your children to become recycling champions and help protect and preserve the environment.

Climate change is a growing concern globally and it is up to everyone to step up and make a meaningful contribution to preserving the planet for future generations. One of the easiest ways to do so is by recycling. We share four ways to get your children involved.

Changing weather conditions resulted in extreme weather disasters in 2023, with at least 15 700 people in Africa losing their lives, according to the latest report from Carbon Brief, while another 34 million have been affected.

You may ask how separating your glass, plastics, cardboard and metals into separate bins can prevent extreme weather conditions, but every action, no matter how small it may seem, influences the planet and has the potential to drive widespread change as more people adopt positive environmental behaviours.

Find some waste-reducing tips here.

recycling’s vital role

Recycling is a key part of the circular economy, helping to protect our natural resources by saving millions of tonnes in CO2 emissions. According to available statistics, South Africans generate about 122 million tonnes of waste a year, with a mere 10% recycled or recovered for other uses. The rest (90%) is sent to landfills, dumped illegally or lost to the environment.

Recycling’s benefits include:

  • the need for less natural resources to produce new materials when old materials can safely be recycled and reused or upcycled;
  • landfill space is reduced;
  • pollution is lowered;
  • waste is minimised;
  • and energy is saved. The amount of energy used to manufacture products using recycled materials is considerably less than that required for producing products from raw materials.

did you know?

Recycling just one tonne of paper can save:

  • 26 498 litres of water
  • 1 438 litres of oil
  • Three cubic metres of landfill space
  • 32 tonnes of CO2equivalent

This is according to Mpact Recycling, a leading recycler in South Africa. The organisation runs numerous pick-up programmes via schools, communities and offices that raise recycling awareness and create income opportunities.

how to make a difference

Start with your own behaviour and then teach your children so that the habit becomes part of everyday life. Placing small paper recycling bins in various areas of your home makes it easier and more convenient to get into the recycling habit.

Four ways to get started 
  1. Educate

Recycling is the process of taking materials ready to be thrown away and converting or repurposing them into reusable materials. Only certain products, including paper, plastic, glass and metal can be recycled and the process for doing so is different for each material.

  1. Show

Set up a recycling station at home – provide separate bins for food waste, plastic, paper, glass and metal that children can access easily and use independently. Show them recycled products or products that contain recycled material so they can see how it is reused – and how it is often indistinguishable from a new product.

3.     Discourage overconsumption

We’re bombarded with advertising for new products daily, so learning the difference between “wants” and “needs” is important. It teaches us all to shop more mindfully and not generate more waste. Here, upcycling or creative reuse can play a role. Upcycling is defined as the act of taking something no longer in use and giving it a new function and second life.

Take a look at some upcycling projects.

  1. Act

Children learn by example – and we can each set an example in our community. By separating your recycling, organising recycling initiatives in your neighbourhood and working with your children’s school to make recycling part of their everyday lives there, too, you can have an exponential impact on the planet.

support recycling initiatives

Many beneficiaries of the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme work to preserve our environment – you can support their work by signing up for a MySchool card online, or via the app, available from Google Play or the Apple App Store). Select up to three preferred beneficiaries and generate donations – at no cost to you – every time you swipe your card at a partner.