How to teach waste management to kids?

As urbanization in India continues to grow, one of the biggest challenges faced by the municipal corporations is that of waste management. India generated a whopping 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste in 2021 alone as per a Swachh Bharat Mission report. Out of these, only 68% is collected and only 28% of that is treated by Municipal Corporations. 

More than 80% of waste in the country is disposed of in an unscientific manner at dumpsites or landfills. Very few people are aware that this trash that we throw away follows a dangerous path back to us. Dangerous chemicals leak into our soil and water systems; we breathe poisonous fumes coming from such dumping sites, micro plastics leak into our food chain also severely harming animals and plants around us.

Poor children collecting garbage from a landfill

The only solution to this problem is segregation of waste at the source coupled with recycling or up-cycling of harmful materials. Not only is this a solution to our current waste management problem but has also proved to be a great opportunity for some smart entrepreneurs who have launched some excellent businesses based on recycling and up-cycling. This new eco-system of businesses that function on waste management, recycling, up-cycling etc. is known as circular economy.

Circular Economy: ‘A circular economy entails markets that give incentives to reusing products, rather than scrapping them and then extracting new resources.’ as per the United Nations definition of circular economy. The world circular economy market which is set to touch $4.5 Trillion by 2030 is also going to be a great career opportunity for children of today when they grow up.

So it is better to get children of today started on understanding the different types of waste and ways to segregate them so that we build responsible and environmentally conscious citizens of tomorrow.

Circular economy - Caring for environment

Here is a beautiful video to explain circular economy to kids,

 Here are a few ways on how you can teach children about waste segregation, management, recycling and up-cycling.

1. Recycling Games: There are tons of recycling games that can be played in a live-action kind of environment or online. We would recommend playing live-action games at kids’ parties or picnics as it is a great way to teach something to the kids while having fun.

You can find a lot of live-action as well as online games on recycling on the below link,

environmental superhero


2. Visit to a Recycling Center: You can take kids to a recycling center and give them first-hand experience on what goes into recycling of different kinds of waste. You can check the list of Recycling centers in India here curated by Recycle India Foundation. You can also get in touch with some NGOs or circular startups who have been working in the Recycling space and would be more than willing to share knowledge on what goes into waste segregation and up-cycling and/or recycling of waste. Here is a list of some NGOs and circular economy startups you may get in touch with.

3. Quiz on Waste Segregation: Check your knowledge on toxicity and harmfulness quotients of different types of waste through puzzles and quizzes. We have designed a couple of fun quizzes that can teach you a lot about your impact on the environment and some simple steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. You can take the quizzes below. 



 4. DIY Up-cycling Videos on YouTube:  Check out some cool DIY videos on YouTube that teach some cool things that can be prepared from waste materials. The videos are not only insightful on what all things can be done from waste but would also act as a fun activity for the whole family to take part and enjoy together. You might also come up with some of your own ideas on up-cycling waste after watching these videos. Just make sure to only use waste materials for doing these DIY activities. Below are a few videos you can consider for DIY activities,


Home composting

5. Teaching through Board Games: Board games are a great way to teach certain topics or develop skills among kids in a fun and engaging way. Teaching kids in the traditional way of monotonous one sided delivery of content is outdated and may not be able to excite and engage all the kids. Board games have proved to be great tools in teaching new concepts to kids, academic as well as non-academic. Here are a few board games that can teach the kids about waste segregation, waste management and in general caring for the environment around us in a fun way.

    1. ‘What’s Rubbish’ Board Game: In this game, you pick up litter as you walk around in your neighborhood and segregate them into different recycle bins. At the same time, you have to be wary about the litterbugs who litter your neighborhood. It is ideal for kids aged 5 to 10.  
    2. ‘Let’s Play with Rubbish’ Board Game: The objective of this game is to minimize the waste going to the landfill and to instead create value from waste by reusing and recycling it in innovative and sustainable ways. The game is ideal for kids aged 12 or more.
    3. ‘Ecotopia’ Board Game: This game is about embarking on a sustainability mission where you have to race to the finish line. You get rewarded on your way for eco-friendly deeds. It is a good game to teach kids the impact of waste and plastic and has some tips on how some simple switches can lead to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
    4. ‘Lord of the Bins’ board Game: The newly launched board game by Luma World is a great way of teaching waste segregation to kids. The game has 4 trash bin cards which fall under 4 categories namely Dry Waste, Wet Waste, E-Waste and Hazardous and Sanitary Waste. There are a total of 60 cards with 15 cards fitting into each of the buckets above. The cards are numbered in terms of the harm they cause to the environment or time they take to decompose. Each player has to segregate the cards prioritizing highly harmful cards into the right bucket. This game is a great way of teaching kids the importance of segregation and how we can segregate the different types of wastes from our day-to-day life. It is ideal for kids aged. You can check out the game here.

Children playing 'Lord of the Bins' game

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