We are focusing on 'Step it up' this Recycle Week. You might already know that being supportive of the environment and doing minimal harm in all our processes is something we feel very passionate about - so much so that we’ve committed to reaching carbon net zero by 2041.

Carbon Net Zero Pledge

We know that trying to make a difference can feel a little overwhelming at times. We’ve heard many practitioners say things like ‘how can I make a difference? I’m just one person!’ - and we understand that feeling. We don’t think hope is lost though. We believe the biggest difference we can make is actually right in front of us (or perhaps 100 metres away running towards a set of monkey bars, or asking for another biscuit!). The biggest change we can make as practitioners is to inspire the future generation of change makers. In our blog post today, we’re going to share some practical ideas and activities you and your class, children, or cohort can try out, with the intention of not only making a difference in the moment, but inspiring the future generation to step up, and care deeply about the world around them.

Recycled

Most of us are familiar with the catchphrase ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ - for good reason! We think these three terms are a great way to structure our thinking in terms of activities for Recycle Week and in supporting climate mindfulness in our little ones. 

Reduce

The best way to support our environment and minimise waste is by creating less in the first place. A great start to this can be thinking about how your entire setting can take a minimising waste approach to working. We shared a great blog post this March, in fact, on becoming a plastic free school.

Recycling Activity

Beyond limiting your plastic usage, we also recommend the following ways of reducing your single use material usage. These are ideas that adults need to implement, but children can be encouraged to remind them, or involved in the process of switching over from single use items:

  • Prioritise whiteboards over paper when doodling or practising writing.
  • Aim to focus on ‘junk modelling’ over using new art materials.
  • Limit laminating things and instead purchase heavy duty plastic wallets or packs which can keep documents safe without needing new plastic every time

We think focusing on a mindset of reducing goes a huge way in supporting a sustainable future!

Reuse

At Cosy, we absolutely love reusing materials. You can probably tell this by looking at a lot of our learning resources and materials - wooden pallet or cable reel anyone? While you can choose to purchase these ready sourced from us (which is a great step towards reusing things!), you can also source these resources, and DIY them, yourselves!

Wooden pallet mud kitchen

Mud kitchens can be expensive - there’s no getting around it! So why not try out making you own, using our instructional guide here. There’s a real variety of materials you can make use of in going DIY here. Wooden pallets, plastic crates - and the more you add in, the more difference you’re making!

Cable reel tuff spot 

Nothing quite says Cosy like a cable reel - and you can certainly buy them directly from us, but if you have some to hand from your own home DIY, these are perfect stands for tuff spots and smaller trays!

Loose parts 

It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying lots of beautiful loose parts. While we love them as much as the next person, you can try supplementing, or even replacing pre-made loose parts with bits and bobs from around your home! Here are some of our favourite items that are perfect for using in transient art, numeracy and more:

  • Milk bottle tops - a variety of sizes and colours
  • Corks 
  • Kitchen roll insides (we don’t recommend using toilet roll insides, for health and safety reasons)
  • Lolly sticks
  • The top of pringles cans or other crisp cans
  • Ribbon and string from gift bags 

Recycle

Finally, if materials can’t be reduced or reused, recycling is key. Encourage your little ones to think about where their waste goes by making posters to go around your setting, as well as ensuring they are involved in understanding which bins are for which items. You might even like to set up some of the following fun activities to encourage this!

  • Speed separate: give children a pile of (ready cleaned!) waste items such as paper, waste food packets, and plastic bottles. How quickly can two teams separate the items into the right bins? 
  • Science experiments on how quickly things biodegrade: leave an apple core, a kitchen roll tube and a crisp packet on the soil outside. Which decomposes? Which stays? Why is it important that we use materials that decompose or can be reused?
  • A trip to the tip: if allowed in your local area, can you take our little ones to the refuse depot to look at where all their waste goes? 
  • A visit from a refuse collector: can one of your local refuse collectors visit your setting to talk about where different waste items go, and what happens to them?

Check out some of our up-cycled Cosy resources below for Recycle Week!

Obstacle Starter Course

We hope our ideas can offer some inspiration on helping your little ones think more about protecting their planet and local environment. We’d love to see what you are doing in your setting for Recycle Week and every week - so please tag us in your efforts!

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With thanks to The Cosy Creatives and Cosy Club Members for this blog post and images.

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