If you wonder how to convince your kids why they should care about food waste and recycling, consider paying a visit to a recycling center near you. We’ve joined a group of elementary kids for a field trip, and we’ve been amazed to see all the motivation the kids came back with. Here is an insight look into our trip to the Marin Recycling Center.
We started the visit of the Marin Recycling Center in an educational room. When asked why they should care about recycling, these second graders answered that plastic can go to the ocean and fish get sick, that the air can be polluted, or that landfills were not good for the planet. It was impressive how concerned they were for our planet already!
Introduction to the 4R’s
The students learned about the 4R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot) in an interactive way by placing cards back to the right place on a board. Here is where the discussion led to.
Where did it come from?
When it’s made from sand, it’s transformed into glass.
When it grows in a farm, we’re talking about food.
Made from fossile fuels? This one was supposed to be the most difficult, but a young boy easily answered “plastic”.
Made from rocks/metal, we get aluminium.
And last, made from trees, it’s transformed into paper or cardboards.
The children were reminded that these are all natural resources, coming from Earth, and that’s why it’s important to recycle – we have a limited number of trees on Planet Earth!
Where do these things must go?
The children were shown the different types of bins. The blue bin for recycling papers and cardboards. The brown bin for recycling cans and bottles. The green bin for compost.
From one county to another, the colors of the bins can differ, but garbages coming from our homes should almost be always separated in these different bins.
What does it become?
Compost becomes soil. Glass is recycled for making more glass. Aluminum is also recycled for making more aluminium. Plastic will make more clothes and toys. And paper will become paper once again.
Do I get a water bottle after recycling a water bottle? No, and it’s called downcycling, it’s recycled one time for making a lower-value product.
Tour of the recycling center
We visited the site in full operation: big trucks were coming in and out, and some pieces of glasses could be on the floor. Our group received safety rules. We all had to wear yellow vests and helmets, and even if saw something cool on the floor, only our feet were allowed to touch the ground! Then the visit started.
Stop 1 – We could see trucks coming in, heavily loaded with trash (the total weight indicated on a scale was between 30k and 60k pounds!), and discharging all the trash in huge mountains.
Stop 2 – Another truck scooped up the garbages and then it went in the machine to be sorted. It was just about paper, cardboard, plastic… but the noise and the smell were very intense!
Stop 3 – Once it is sorted out, a big machine compress each type of recycled items and pack them tight in big cubic bulks, ready to be bought and then reused.
Stop 4 – The phase that delighted most the children was when we could see animals onsite: peacocks, porks, and chickens. They are part of the recycling center because they can contribute to the recycling. Peacocks, indeed, help scare seagulls that love sneaking around the trashes. Porks help eliminate the compost. And chickens can eat the bread donated by the supermarkets that could not sell it in time.
The visit ended. We all headed back to San Francisco with our yellow bus in this foggy and rainy day. These young students could see, for real, what is happening when they put something to the trash, and they could also understand how important it is to do our best to sort our trash in order to protect our planet, and thus, our future.
No doubt that this visit will lead to interesting eco-friendly discussions with family and friends at dinner time, and that these children will be more inclined to finish what they have for lunch in order to reduce food waste! 😉