Teaching our children to reduce waste is as important as teaching them to be kind. It teaches kids to be mindful of their actions, no matter how big or small, and sets the tone for how they will treat natural resources throughout their lifetime. With patience, persistence, and a little creativity, teaching your child to reduce waste can be done.

Reducing waste can be a fun family event. 4 parenting tips.

1. Connect with the earth.

Instill a sense of appreciation and fondness for the earth at an early age, and you’ll raise a child that wants to do anything he can to preserve its wonders. A wonderful way to teach your child to appreciate and respect the earth is to allow him to play in the soil, roll in the grass and climb trees. As messy as it may sound, it is a wonderful way for your child to connect with something larger than himself. When you begin teaching him how to conserve water, recycle and reduce waste in general, he’ll understand the greater picture and will be more likely to put forth an effort.

2. Create challenges.

If your garbage is stuffed full each week, set the goal of reducing waste household wide. Week by week track how full (overflowing to half-full) your trash can is on garbage day. To achieve the goal your kids will become more proactive about pursuing methods for reducing waste: cutting back on consumption, recycling more, looking for reuse and upcycling opportunities.

3. Add some color.

Children are very visual. If you want to find a subtle and effective way to teach your child to recycle, designate bins with colorful labels. Creating designated spaces encourages your child to recycle, by helping them familiarize themselves with the colors and teaching them to separate items accordingly. Here are a few ideas you can use to pair colors with recyclables:

  • Red/orange: Items for compost.

  • Green: Paper products, napkins

  • Blue: Water bottles and plastics.

4. Pair activities with an incentive.

Children—especially those between the ages of 7 and 12—are often driven by rewards. In most cities, there are locations where you can take your empty water bottles, soda cans, and glass bottles to be recycled for cash. Trading your recyclables in for cash is a good way to teach your child to appreciate the value of reducing waste. Offering an incentive will not only teach your child about responsibility, but it will help make the world a little bit cleaner.