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A Summer Recycling Read for Kids

July 5, 2016

Today’s guest blog is by Meleena Erikson with Young Street Publishing. It presents some summer light reading on recycling for young people.

The EPA reported in 2009 that there has been a slight decrease in Municipal Solid Waste from 255 million tons to 243 million tons. However the overall recycling rate in the country has been flat at 34% for the past 20 years.  While corporate initiatives on sustainability and innovation will play important roles in the growth of recycling nationwide, we also need to continue our efforts around education.  How we introduce our young people to this vital topic will be a key to future success in this area.

When recycling is introduced to young people it usually begins with them understanding what can be recycled.  They might be taught to use the recycling bins for things like paper, cans, and plastic bottles- or the indoor compost container for food scraps.  We speak with them about reducing, reusing and recycling as if those words have meaning to them before we have defined them. 

In The Pitkin Kids Learn About Recycling, a new book by J.M. Powell and illustrated by Rob Blum, we are introduced to a group of young friends trying to figure out how this whole recycling thing works.  Their story takes them to a recycling center (an “MRF”) where they are able to ask questions and see firsthand what happens to their recyclables after they’re picked up from the curb.  By framing this important topic in a story, it helps educate young people on the greater scope of recycling and helps to address the key issues of environmental stewardship.  Additionally the activities included at the end of the book provide parents and teachers a way to reinforce the content covered in the book.

In one scene, the kids are shown the room where different materials have been separated into bales.  Their tour guide Mr. Howard is explaining that companies will purchase the goods so they can reuse them to make new products.  This causes Rob to ask:

“Isn’t it kind of gross to make new bottles out of old bottles that people drank out of?”

Mr. Howard laughed. “When you make aluminum, plastic, or glass, you have to melt all the old containers. The heat makes them super clean again.”

The Pitkin Kids Learn About Recycling was written by J.M. Powell, Illustrated by Rob Blum. The book was published by Young Street Publishing, a Maine based publishing company focused on giving back to local schools. 


NERC welcomes Guest Blog submissions. To inquire about submitting articles contact Athena Lee Bradley, Projects Manager at athena(at) Disclaimer: Guest blogs represent the opinion of the writers and may not reflect the policy or position of the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.

Check NERC’s website for a wide range of school resources, including: School Cafeteria Waste Reduction;  School Composting Options;   School Reuse Tips; School Waste Assessment Form, and more.

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