KidTip: a simple vocabulary change
My daughter came home from school one day and told me that after they finish eating lunch it's time for recycling. I haven't had lunch with her yet, but I'm guessing that the cafeteria must have a recycling bin for milk cartons. I was impressed that whomever relays these instructions uses the word recycling instead of saying throw away your trash. It seems like such a small thing, but you can change a child's way of thinking about waste by changing your vocabulary to words like composting and recycling. I'm trying to say, "please recycle that paper," instead of, "please throw that paper in the recycling bin." By using recycle as an action verb, you eliminate the whole suggestion of throwing something away.
Renee's suggestion for replacing household trash cans with recycling cans and my recent addition of recycling cans in the bathrooms also support this kind of messaging. Children hear the words, they see and participate in the activity of recycling and then they build an awareness of the cycle of waste. Now, hopefully they will start understanding how to avoid it in the first place (a work in progress for us all)!