Recycling and Upcycling as a Family

May 6, 2021

KiwiCo logo


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Recycling can become a family activity. Plus, you can turn these activities into educational projects as your family learns to recycle and upcycle. Here are four easy steps to get you started.

a mom holding her child in her lap teaching them how to recycle and throw away trash with text Recycling and Upcycling as a Family

Recycling Research

First, you’ll want to help your kids research the recycling processes in your area. Since every town or city is different, you’ll need to do some digging to find information on the local recycling program.

Your kids can create posters and charts that explain what they learn about recycling. You can start with National Geographic’s game called Recycle Roundup or the EPA’s Recycle City.

In addition to recycling household items, there are other actions your family can take to reduce waste.

Consider talking with your kids about water usage in your home. Did you know that letting your faucet run for five minutes can waste 10 gallons of water? Keeping the water running while you brush your teeth or rinse off dishes uses enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 18 hours according to the EPA. That’s a lot of wasted water! Make a fun game out of keeping water usage minimal in your home. 

One other area to keep track of waste in your home is in your energy usage. Instead of making it mom’s job to turn off all the lights, enlist the kids! And you can even go further than simply turning off the lights. What about all those other electronics in your home? Consider unplugging televisions, game consoles, microwaves, printers, phone chargers, computer cords, and coffee makers. 

Shopping Scavenger

Here’s a fun idea to keep your kids active during grocery shopping trips. Let the kids find food options that are made from recyclable or compostable materials. It will feel like a scavenger hunt! Help your kids learn about the recycling symbols and their meanings.

Have your kids search for options that are packaged in glass, metal, or paper. It will keep everyone occupied while you do your weekly shopping trip plus help encourage smart shopping.

Check out these other posts for more shopping scavenger activities:

Setting Up Systems

Systems are the key to following through with recycling or upcyling as a family. Your kids will be more likely to sort through containers if you have bins ready for each type of recyclable and waste. Have your kids create labels for the bins and empty them each day.

If your city supports composting, you can use a small compost bin for your kitchen. This is a great activity for the kids, and you can use your kitchen compost as a great jumping off point for great science conversations.

You can compost food scraps including:

  • Vegetable and fruit wates
  • Cooked or uncooked grains
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Old bakery products

Check out this Composting and Worm Unit Study that comes with a FREE printable.


Turn recycling and upcycling into a fun art project in your homeschool! This is easy to do with items like:

  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Egg cartons
  • Tissue boxes
  • Plastic bottles
  • Glass jars
  • Metal food cans

KiwiCo has an awesome list of toilet paper roll crafts & activities for kids that will give you fun ideas to try out in your homeschool.

Check out KiwiCo’s Recycling Tips for Kids for more ways that the entire family can work together to reduce waste at home.

close up of a mom holding her child in her lap with text Recycling and Upcycling as a Family



Related resources

  • Fun and Easy Printable Playdough Mats for Children

  • sidewalk chalk art

    Fun Ways to Take Learning Outside with Sidewalk Chalk

  • Fun & Simple Solar System Projects for Students

  • tie dye

    The Best Tie Dye Tips For Dying Shirts & More at Home

  • history project

    Top 10 Projects to Make Homeschooling Science and History More Interesting

  • Hands-On Ways to Learn About Space with a space craft

    6 Hands-On Ways to Learn About Space