We Should Teach The 5 R’s from Refuse to Recycle

EnvironmentalistsMy children are not even in school yet but it I see everything they are learning about already at life and in daycare tells me they are ready for a real education in environment.

Refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle and are all things kids can learn about at a very young age.


We refuse single use plastic bags (and paper bags) because we bring our own bags. My daughter is the first one to remind me that we need our bags. We have a few Disney bags in our collection so she likes to make sure we have her bags with us when we go to the store. We use these bags at every store too, I have gotten some looks at the mall with my bags when I am not interested in taking their shopping bag. It seems to not be social acceptable yet to bring your own bag to the mall.


Single use paper napkins have no place in our lives. In 2012, my sister gave me a 96 napkins, a beautiful hand painted napkin holder, and a nice laundry basket to keep in my dining room for napkins. We did not use a single paper napkin last year at home. When we had friends over they asked for paper napkins because they did not want to get the nice ones dirty, I reminded them that is what they are there for. I even have fun ones for the kids that they take in their lunch box to school.

We are also reducing the amount of GMO’s in our diet and eating more organic food than ever before. I made this decision for the family not just for the obvious health reasons but to vote with my wallet. The more people purchase GMO free and organic food the more industry will shift to providing us more of what we want. I want to see things like this become available as fast as possible and what better way to do it.


Lots of us greenies reuse our glass containers. I have a favorite pasta sauce that we put on pizza and pasta and I have about 25 of their jars in our house. I keep all the items I get in the bulk section at Whole Foods in these containers. I keep a lot of plastic out of the landfills from keeping and using these jars. Every Sunday I make 5 undressed salads in my glass jars and measure out my salad dressing in the smaller glass jars so I can just grab them in the morning and run out the door (we are not a group of morning people in my house)

I also reuse the large rubber bands that tie broccoli together and use them as name tags for my kids water bottles. I saved money from buying those labels and I am keeping the rubber bands out of the landfill.


My favorite recent repurpose is taking bread crumb containers and recovering  them with scrapbook paper or some other paper and using them as gift boxes! They are perfect for birthday and Christmas gifts but you can also use them to put cookies in when you are going to someones house or to daycare that is how the Valentines Day cookies went to school and the teachers still use the containers.

recycle blue imageRecycle

What can say recycling is my thing. I have mentioned here that we have had recycling in my area since 3rd grade which lets say is long before Bill Clinton was President! I take pride in the fact that the amount of true waste my family of four creates is quite small. I diligently recycle all the paper in our house. Every single box, magazine, container or other paper product that can be recycled is. When I recycle the cardboard box that the pasta comes in I take the plastic off the cut out window and put that in the plastic recycling and collapse the paper box for the paper recycling. Our plastic and tin recycling is approached the same way. I made sure I went to town meeting of our green council to learn more about what was acceptable to be recycled in our town and what they do with the items.

Recycling is the last R because it is the one we should not rely on but use as a last resort. My kids know at a very young age what goes into what recycling bin and I have heard my oldest ask at a friend’s house where she should throw her recycling. She knows some things do not belong int the garbage.

These lessons of the 5 R’s being taught at home and reinforced at school make the message that much stronger and easier to follow.

Please head over to some of my other great friends blogs and see what they are saying about the 5 R’s!

Almost All The Truth


Green Talk

The Greening Of Westford

Jen and Joey goes Green

The Soft Landing

Eco-Novice: Going Green Gradually


Images: Blue Recycling image from Krossell 


  1. I only buy products that I know I can recycle or re-purpose.I love your bread crumb example!

  2. I love the broccoli rubber band idea. I keep our rubber bands in a container and we reuse them for many things – but I had not thought of your idea!

  3. hhale164 says:

    Thanks for all the wonderful ideas! Love hearing about even more ways to teach the kiddos to be green.

    • It is not always easy, but teaching young kids anything can be difficult at times right?