You probably already know that your kids should learn the “other” RRRs (reduce, reuse, recycle), in addition to reading, writing and arithmetic. Now its time to introduce a “P.”
You need to teach your kids about precycling. This new word in the lexicon refers to the practice of “pre-recycling,” which is reducing your consumption from the start, so you need to recycle less. The concept is so new that Wikipedia added “precycling” to its site less than 2 months ago:
Precycling simply means reduce and reuse. It is a way of reducing our waste and thinking about our impact on the environment before we purchase. Precycling can simply mean reusing your coffee cup, or carrying around your own coffee mug to reduce waste. There are many things that can not be recycled, therefore we must think before we buy.
Recycling is not doing what is needed to reduce the amount of waste that is produced everyday. Simple tips can help to reduce waste, such as using cloth napkins, since paper napkins are not recyclable. There are also many everyday products that we purchase at the store that can be made at home, in order to reduce the amount of packaging waste.
The comparative definitions of “precycling” and “recycling” aside, there are a lot of ways you can teach your kids to reduce and reuse, which may be the most important two “Rs” in the equation. In fact, I suggest you start now, to give them an extra boost before they head back to school.
Precycling can occur by reusing items they already have – from backpacks to lunchboxes, jackets to rulers. Don’t buy new if you already own certain items! You can also reduce unnecessary packaging by purchasing larger quantities (say, 4 boxes of crayons at a warehouse store), and then saving the extra for later, or dividing up between other children and/or neighbors. You can also help reduce waste by purchasing cloth napkins to pack into lunch boxes.
Set a good example for your kids by unplugging items not in use, from coffee-makers to computers and cell phones. In addition, show them how easy it is to reduce waste of food containers by green-bagging their lunch, or requesting that meals not be packaged “to go.” Even encourage them to help their school cafeteria to go green, by getting rid of trays. This will save hot water and detergent for the wash!
Finally, take your kids for a grocery store tour. With a calculator (this makes a great math lesson), show them how larger quantities cost less per volume than the alternative. This is because of the cost of packaging! Why not buy 64 oz. of peanut butter for $6.00, as opposed to 32 oz. for $4.50?
Want some startling facts about consumerism, reducing, recycling – and perhaps even a boost to you to precycle? Just watch this video and consider the facts therein:
Now, go out there and help teach your kids about precycling.