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    Home / Science lessons / Learn About Recycling
    • Learn About Recycling

      What Is Recycling?

      kids recyclingRecycling is something you can do to help cut down on waste. When you recycle, something worn out can be made new again, instead of just being thrown away. There are also two other ways that help us avoid waste.

      Not getting more than you really need is a good way to reduce, or use less. By using less paper and glass, we can help save the earth's resources like trees and minerals from the ground. What are some ways you can reduce waste? Why not use a reusable glass, metal, or hard plastic water bottle instead of using lots of thin plastic ones? Using washable dishes and cloths instead of paper plates and paper towels is a good way to reduce the amount of paper and plastic we use and throw away.

      Instead of just throwing something away, we can try to think of ways to reuse it first. What are some things in your house that you can reuse instead of throwing away? Can you think of some ways to reuse a glass jelly jar, a milk carton, an empty cardboard cereal box, brown paper bags, plastic bags, or a metal soup can? Try your ideas out and see how well they work. Even after you reuse those things, you can probably still recycle them!

      True recycling is more than just reusing something. It means breaking something apart and turning it into something new. The most common things that can be recycled are paper, glass, and metal. Many types of plastic and things made of wood can also be recycled. If something cannot be reused, and it is made from a material that can be recycled, we can take it to a recycling collection bin so that it can be made into something new! To find out where you can recycle things where you live, visit this website.

      Why Should We Recycle?

      Do you sometimes take out the trash at your house? You probably have a dumpster or garbage container outside of your house that a garbage collector comes and empties into a big truck once a week. Where does all the garbage go after the truck gets filled up? It goes to a landfill or a dump, where piles and piles of trash and waste are compacted (pressed down or crushed) and then buried in the ground. Grass can be planted over the buried trash to make the land look better and be safer. Sometimes landfills can leak dangerous chemicals into the soil that can eventually get to streams, lakes, and rivers, where water that we drink comes from. Lots of animals live in that water and drink it too. When landfills are built and taken care of the way they are supposed to be, they are not dangerous, but they do use up land that could be used for other things instead, like building houses.

      When things are recycled, not as much gets thrown away and sent to landfills. Recycling helps keep our earth clean because not as much land is filled up with garbage. Recycling paper and wood means that not as many trees will get cut down, so not as many animals will have their homes destroyed (see our Animal Homes issue to find out more about kinds of animals that live in trees).

      Many products that can be recycled are made from materials that come from the earth. Minerals called ore and silica are used to make metal and glass. These are called natural resourcesbecause they are found naturally on the earth. This also means that we cannot make more of these resources, so when they are all used up, that's it, we can't create more to keep making products! Thankfully, there are still a lot of natural resources left, but each day there will be less and less since new products are always being made and using up more of the earth's resources. We can help make the earth's natural resources last longer by reusing things we already have and recycling things we don't need.

      Another problem with making new products, such as plastic, is that it creates pollution in the air that we breathe. The chemicals and other things that are used to create lots of products are dangerous and some of those chemicals are left over after the products are made and can eventually end up in water that comes into our houses through our faucets. Recycling does not create as many dangerous chemicals that pollute the air and water as making new products from natural resources does.

      To learn how you can recycle used scraps of paper into new sheets of homemade paper, check out our Paper Making science project.

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