Arts/Crafts, Field Trip Ideas

Earth Day: Loving the Landfill

Waste Management's Julianne Haness shows us what's recyclable.

Each year, my MOMS Club tours the local landfill in honor of Earth Day. The field trip is always a big hit with kids and moms alike. What child wouldn’t enjoy meeting a garbage truck that holds 10 elephants worth of trash?

And this green gal always learns something new. Obviously your local recycling rules might be different but I realized:

  • I can get additional recycling and green waste cans for FREE! I have a second recycling can on its way.
  • Juice boxes, including orange juice cartons are recyclable.
  • Any plastic, even if it doesn’t have the recycling symbol, goes into the recycling bin.
  • But, keep the styrofoam out of the recycling, even if it has the recycling symbol on it.
  • Never throw greasy paper plates and pizza boxes into the recycling. These are broken down in the equivalent of a big blender to make new paper products. The grease can’t be removed.
  • Key takeaway: when in doubt, throw it into the recycling bin. They’ll sort it out later.
We learned a new recycling song, sung to a tune reminiscent of an Army march. I kept wanting to chant, “Sound off, 1, 2. Sound off, 3,4” each time we sang it.:

“I recycle you should too

I recycle yes I do

Don’t throw paper in the trash

Paper needs another chance

Take  your cans and give ’em a smash

Don’t throw your cans in the trash

I recycle you should too

I recycle yes I do” (courtesy of Waste Management)

Even if you can’t visit the landfill, you can create your own Earth Day fun:

  • Make recycled paper. Create a small screen by laying a rectangular piece of mesh over four popsicle sticks, one for each edge. Attach the mesh with a stapler. Have your child tear up old newspaper. Add it to your blender along with a little water. Adult, blend up your paper mush. Your child can carefully scoop out the paper mush and press it onto the screen, pressing out as much water as possible. Wait until it dries, and voila, paper.
  • Make robots out of toilet paper rolls and pipe cleaners. This comes from FamilyFun (click on link for picture and details). Paint the rolls with acrylic paint. Punch two holes for arms. Cut the pipe cleaner in half and twist each half around a pen to create coiled arms. Attach them at the holes and paint on your robot design.
  • Enjoy some Earth-friendly books. We recently enjoyed Compost Stew and This Tree Counts, which were Perfect Picture Book Friday recommendations.

This year, Earth Day falls on Sunday the 22nd. How will you celebrate?

27 thoughts on “Earth Day: Loving the Landfill”

  1. Happy Earth Day! Thanks for the reminder and for sharing how you go about observing this important day.

  2. Oh! I’m need to do this with my kids. Great idea. So I don’t know if you can answer this or not, but our recycling says no wax coated cardboard. I assumed juice boxes are wax coated, but maybe they aren’t. What do you think?

    1. I think they are wax-coated. That’s why I never recycled mine. But, Julianne showed us a picture that shoed an orange juice carton, and I asked about it specifically. I guess we can recycle wax-coated cardboard here.

  3. What a great assortment of insightful recycling tips and fun activities! Thanks so much for mentioning Compost Stew, and keep up the good work spreading a little green in the world, on Earth Day and every day…

  4. When in doubt recycle! I love this because I can’t tell you how many times I hover over the trash can wondering if it’s recyclable or not! Sheesh! Thanks for the info. Now I will be able to go to bed with a clean conscience!

  5. Thanks for this! I can’t wait to make paper with my boys now! I just remembered that we did this as a project with my art teacher when I was in elementary school. We added little dried bits of flowers and herbs into the mash and when the paper had dried we filled a shallow pan with water and put oil-based paint on the top. We would swirl the paint a little bit with a stick so that it made swirly colorful patterns and then lfoat the paper on top for just a second, just long enough for some of the paint to adnere to the paper. It came out looking really beautiful!

      1. Since this is going back at least 25 years, I don’t know what the exact formula for the paint was, but I’m sure google could give us some clues. I do remember that the paint would float on the surface of the water, which is what makes me assume it must have been oil-based.

  6. Suprised to hear the last comment, “when in doubt…”. I had thought a whole slew of things would NOT get recycled if I messed up. And I am an obsessive-compulsive recycler! Glad to see I’m not as alone as I thought. We can’t recycle juice boxes here – yet! I hope we will have the chance sometime soon. My parents in DE can only recycle if they take the few things to the center (not close) themselves, and on Long Island, where I grew up, you could have gotten ticketed for NOt recycling!

    Also glad to hear you guys are making stuff: I’ve still got the ‘equipment’ for recycled paper – loved doing that. I know that creates little engineers because mine are now inventing solutions with saved objects – you’d have a good laugh at some of mine in the garden!

    Thanks Kirsten!

  7. I compost and recycle bottles. I miss living in the city where all I had to do is put all my recycles in a blue bag and leave it with the trash. Now if I want to recycle paper I have to drive into the city. Learning to recycle starts with parents so I think it’s great that you are teaching your kids to recycle. My Mom taught my brothers and I. My Dad use to make a game of the bottles. Who ever was the closest to guessing the number of bottles got 10 bucks. I got pretty good at it.

    1. We are really lucky to be able to toss everything into our green bin. However, we do save bottles and cans that we can redeem for cash. I’m hoping some day the boys can take over this job and keep the money.

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