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Fun Challenges for Global Recycling Day

Reduce, reuse, recycle – is this a phrase we truly live by? Get your green on this global recycling day with these fun challenges.
Fun Challenges for Global Recycling Day
Updated: February 13, 2023
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Reduce, reuse, recycle. It is a phrase we have all heard throughout our lives, but is it something that we actually practice?

Research shows that 91% of the world’s plastic goes unrecycled. This is a statistic that needs to change. Global Recycling Day is a great time to start going green for good!

 How can you make this happen? And what are the best ways to get your kids excited about this initiative? We detail the importance of recycling and list some fun challenges to help make reuse a regular part of your family life.

What Is Global Recycling Day?

Global Recycling Day occurs on March 18th every year and it serves as an occasion “to help recognize, and celebrate, the importance recycling plays in preserving our precious primary resources and securing the future of our planet.” Created in 2018 by Ranjit S. Baxi, president of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), this initiative promotes working towards creating a circular economy.

What is a circular economy? Essentially, it means using recyclable materials to turn something old into something new again. This new model of production is a drastic adjustment to the current methods used in waste management and it has the potential to facilitate a better future for the people of planet Earth.

Recycling Heroes for Creative Innovation 

This year, the Global Recycling Foundation wants to honor the recycling heroes of this world. That is why they are taking nominations through March 3rd to honor those creative innovators — companies, business leaders, individuals, cities, and even activities — that have made a difference in the recycling world throughout the pandemic.

Winners will receive a $1,000 cash prize and recognition on their social media page. For more details on this competition, simply go to and select “2023 Competition” under the #RecyclingHeroes tab. 

Why Recycling Matters

Group of young school children holding a recycling bin outside and picking up trash

Clean air and water help to support life. Oil, natural gas, and coal give us power for our homes, vehicles, and businesses. Metals make up the materials that support those buildings and automobiles. What you may not realize is that these are the six main natural resources that the Earth provides us.

The seventh resource is recycled goods. These are the materials that can be used over and over again. By choosing to recycle, we conserve the limited raw materials that are available on Earth. This decision to be environmentally conscious also reduces our carbon footprint, diminishes CO2 emissions (which slows global warming), and moderates climate change.

How can this one simple task make such a big impact? The answer is simple — recycling reduces our world’s energy consumption. This, in turn, lessens the output of greenhouse gasses and limits the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

The World’s Sustainable Development Goals Depend on Recycling

“A shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.”

The United Nations has set 17 Sustainable Development Goals to promote a better tomorrow. The hope is to achieve all of these initiatives by 2030. More than a third of these objectives cannot be accomplished without increasing recycling initiatives, making this global issue even more important.

For those families who want to become recycling heroes and help with this environmental enterprise, going green is easier than you think, and it can be surprisingly fun! Here are some simple ways to get started.

Eight Ways To Get Your Kids Excited About Recycling

If you want to get your kids excited about recycling, then you need to show them that it isn’t just about putting their plastic bottles in a specific bin. These activities are not only fun, but they will also get your kids invested in this worthy cause!

Buy Recycled Toys

What kid doesn’t want new toys? Green Toys is a spectacular brand that promotes “100% recycled goodness”. Their battery-free products are made from recycled plastic and packaged in recycled cardboard. To date, they have repurposed over 130 million milk jugs.

Investing in recycled toys not only diminishes plastic waste in this world, but it is also a fantastic way to introduce the concept of recycling to young kids. Talk leads to action and this is an easy way to start.

Make These Toys A Reward

For the folks who live in California, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Iowa, Hawaii, Michigan, and Oregon, you may have noticed that you get charged a fee for buying aluminum, glass, and plastic products.

Another wonderful way to get your kids invested in this cause is to make the recycling center a weekly stop. Get your deposit back and put the money in a jar. At the end of the year, your kids can purchase a recycled toy with their earnings!

Challenge: Many folks have heard of the Little Free Library. Why not have your kids create a toy version of this idea? Kids can drop off a toy and exchange it for another. This will not only elongate the life of these items, but it can also introduce families to recyclable options they may have never considered!

Get Crafty With Recyclables

There are so many fun crafts and activities that can reprioritize plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, old newspapers, and even worn-down fabrics. Make custom bowling pins, build a maze for your little ones, and turn those toilet paper and paper towel tubes into musical instruments. This will not only save you money, but it will also help to save the planet!

Challenge: Designate a day to craft every week and make a point to use only recycled products. This will spur your kid's creativity, improve their ingenuity, and give your single-use products a second life.

Read Stories About Recycling

Another magnificent method for sharing the message of sustainability is through stories. Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug, Why Should I Recycle? The Life of a Little Plastic Bottle, and What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting Our Planet are great additions to add to your bedtime story hour.

Challenge: Read at least one book a week that relates to recycling, the environment, or limiting waste. As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. You want to make sure that recycling is a regular topic of conversation. That is the only way to ensure that your kids make this initiative a regular habit.

Invest in Reusable Items

If we want to have less plastic waste, then we need to stop buying and using disposable options. Instead, invest in reusable water bottles, go with cloth diapers, use fabric grocery bags, and choose eco-friendly food storage like Bee’s Wrap or Food Hugger’s.

Additionally, think about your paper waste. Choose reusable silicone drinking straws. q-tips, and paper towels. You can also nix the single-use k-cup pods and buy a reusable filter

Also, buy your milk and cleaning products in recyclable glass bottles and cancel those magazine and newspaper subscriptions that you no longer use. The internet provides folks with all the information they need in a very green way.

Did you know that you can also buy tree-free paper? Karst is an amazing brand that uses calcium carbonate and resin to make paper in a more sustainable way. 

Finally, when you buy new products, choose from companies that put nature first. These can include businesses that make their products from recycled items or those that replenish what they take by replanting trees and other plants.

Challenge: Once a month, find a single-use item to remove from your home. By switching to paper-free and plastic-free products, you can help to limit waste and even save yourself some money along the way!

Donate Clothes or Turn Them Into Something New

Mother and young child packing old clothes into a cardboard box that says "Donate"

Just because a t-shirt is worn or a pair of jeans has a hole in them, doesn’t mean that the material is useless! Either donate the items so that someone less fortunate can enjoy them, or start slicing! Old fabrics can be used to make quilts, accessories, and even reusable makeup wipes.

Challenge: Each season, have your kids select five items from their closets that they no longer want to use and have them repurpose these clothes in a beneficial way. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is one of many organizations that can use these types of donations.

Start Composting

What is composting? In simple terms, it is giving nutrients back to the soil. By cutting out different forms of organic waste, like dead plants and food, we can diminish how much trash ends up in landfills. This activity is also spectacular for the gardens in your yard!

This video shows how easy it is to get started and how you likely already have everything you need to make a compost bin in your home. Who knew that food waste could be so beneficial?

Challenge: If you don’t have a personal garden to tend to regularly, make a point to head over to your community garden to volunteer at least once a month. This can help your kids to learn about food waste and how to combat this issue.

Make Seed Paper

That stack of paper in the printer has a purpose, but why not give it another life when you are done with it? Seed paper is exactly what it sounds like — paper that has seeds built right in! When planted, this allows new life to sprout and plants help to take CO2 out of the atmosphere. This can be an excellent craft for kids to enjoy and then gift to someone they love.

Challenge: Once a month, make seed paper cards and give them to unsuspecting individuals. This will brighten someone’s day and better our planet at the same time. 

Plant a Tree

As mentioned, plants are the premiere recyclers, lowering our greenhouse gasses. Help to counteract global warming on a small scale by adding more vegetation to the world! This is an easy way to promote a greener future and a fun activity to do on Global Recycling Day.

Challenge: While there are only so many trees that you can plant in your yard, there are other adjustments that you can make to limit your waste and improve the world we live in. For instance, spend a weekend putting mulch in your gardens, and consider spending a day making your own rain barrel. These activities can help with your water consumption.

Start Recycling Everyday

Another fantastic activity for Global Recycling Day is to go shopping and invest in recycling bins for your home. This can make recycling an everyday activity. Going green takes some effort, but once you start it will become second nature. 

Want to live a zero-waste life? Check out these simple changes you can make that can have a big impact on our planet.

Heidi Butler

About Heidi

Heidi is an experienced journalist who worked in the television news industry for a decade,… Read more

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