Recycling with the Family

fam1With all the talk about global warming and hybrid cars, helping the environment is probably never too far from our thoughts these days. Although many people have made environmental issues into political ones, often placing more focus on caring for trees than on caring for human life, we should delight in taking care of this amazing creation that God has given us. Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”

One simple way to care for what we’ve been given is to recycle. Some of you may already participate in a recycling program, but if not, this is a great month to start. Talk to you parents about your idea to recycle. You can start out very simply, recycling aluminum cans, paper (including newspaper), and plastic.

Start by locating a place in your home where you can place several bins for recycling (as many bins as there are different categories you want to recycle). Bins can be bought at home improvement stores, or you can use simple trash cans and label them. Try to find a place that is easily accessible, such as a garage, pantry, or laundry room. For ease of use, make the bins different colors and label them clearly (a picture also helps younger children identify in which bin to put things).

Recycling how-to

Now it’s time to start recycling! The main thing to remember is that not everything is recyclable, and that some things must be recycled properly. Below are some helpful tips; more can be found online.

1.Almost all paper can be recycled, but some types are harder to recycle than others. Paper coated with plastic, is waxy, or has glue or gummy residue on it is generally not recycled because the process is too expensive. Gift wrap is not recycled since it is already poor quality. This does not mean, however, that you can’t recycle wrapping paper in good condition by using it again to wrap another gift!

2.Remove the glossy inserts/advertisements from newspapers before recycling; they are made from a different type of paper and are not processed because of their coating.

fam23. Clean out aluminum cans with water before tossing them in the recycling bin. Fun Fact: Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television for 3 hours!

4. Do not crumple up paper. This is not necessary and takes up more space in the bin.

5. Do not throw out or recycle important documents. Shred any papers that have personal information and/or passwords/ID information on them; then toss.

6.Although labels do not need to be removed from plastic bottles to make them recyclable, lids are often made from a different kind of (non-recyclable) plastic and should be removed. Plastic is often numbered with identification numbers 1–7, telling which kind of plastic it is. Visit for more details on which numbers are recyclable.

7.If you are going to recycle glass, make sure that it is somewhere that children cannot get to it, since it could easily break when tossing. Fun Fact: Glass can be recycled indefinitely since its structure doesn’t deteriorate when reprocessed.

Once your bins are full, it’s time to take them to a local recycling center. Visit the Recycling Center to find one in your area. Make sure that all recyclables are organized; even one or two wrong items in a bin could send it all straight to the trash. You may be able to make a little money from some of your recyclables, so check with your center before dropping it off. You can save up your money for a fun family night or to buy something you all want.

Other creative ways to recycle

fam3There are many other ways you can recycle without having to use a bin system. Here are just a few:

  • As mentioned before, reuse wrapping paper and gift bags that are still in good condition.
  • Cut up old cards to use as gift tags.
  • Use plastic shopping bags for various projects around the house. These can be invaluable––don’t just toss them! If nothing else, see if your local grocery store accepts their bags back.
  • Use scrap paper for kids’ art projects.
  • Keep a box of odds and ends handy for craft and science fair projects.
  • Print unimportant things on both sides of computer printing paper.
  • Refill ink cartridges, or exchange your old ones for a new one. Many places will give a discount for trade-ins.
  • Invest in (or find around the house) a good tote bag that can be used for library and grocery trips, or to carry things with you in the car. This will eliminate the constant use of plastic bags.

We are responsible for taking care of our planet, and recycling is just one easy way in which we can get our families involved. It’s never too late to start helping out, and it’s always a great idea to have a project that the entire family can take part in. So gather your family, grab some bins, and get busy caring for God’s beautiful creation!

By Lisa Grimenstein


  1. I’m trying to spread the word about recycling.

    Find Recycling locations near you @

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