Take the Recycle Rally 30-Day Zero-Waste Challenge

Small daily changes really add up.

Author: Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Ready to help kids learn how to be changemakers? This 30-Day Zero-Waste Challenge gets kids thinking about their waste habits every single day. It’s full of small ways to make a difference, helping build a low-waste recycling lifestyle that will stick.


Print your 30-day zero-waste recycle challenge checklist and check off each item as it’s completed. Change is just around the corner!


1. Take the recycling pledge

Take the pledge to recycle and reduce waste wherever and whenever you can. Print the poster (on the back of a piece of reused scrap paper, if possible) and hang it up as a daily reminder.


2. Learn three new recycling facts

Spend some time researching recycling and find out something new and interesting! Start with Amazing Recycling Facts You Probably Don’t Know, then take a look at our recycling resources page for more articles and videos.


3. Share what you know about recycling

Challenge kids to share one thing they’ve learned about recycling with friends or family. Tell kids to encourage others to try the recycling challenge too!


4. Skip the plastic straw

Carry a reusable straw, or skip the straw altogether and drink out of the cup or container. (Teachers, use your Recycle Rally rewards points to get reusable straws for free!)


5. Carry a reusable water bottle

If you don’t already have one, now’s the time! If you do, be sure you’re re-filling it and taking it along with you every single day.


6. Recycle plastic bags

Most home recycling programs don’t accept plastic bags or wrappings, but many grocery stores have programs to collect them. Set aside a place to gather them, then return them to the store each week. Watch this video to learn more about recycling plastic bags.


7. Take reusable bags to school and to the store

Reduce your use of plastic bags by taking your own bags to the store and packing lunch in a reusable lunch bag.


8. Tally your trash and recyclables

Throughout the course of the day, keep track of everything you recycle or throw away. Bonus recycling challenge: Make a pie chart or bar graph to show the totals.


9. Do a trash audit

Together with your kids, take a closer look at your trash. Could you recycle more of it? Are there some high-waste items you could stop using? Learn more about a personal waste audit here.


10. Start a compost bin or bottle

Teachers, share this lesson plan with your class and start a school compost bin. Low on space? You don’t need an outdoor bin to turn food waste into rich soil! Start one in a plastic bottle instead.


11. Fix something instead of replacing it

Melt broken crayons to make new ones, glue a handle back on a mug—the best way to reduce waste is to use what you already have.


12. Pack a zero-waste lunch

Wrap your sandwich in a wax wrap, or invest in some containers instead. Use an insulated lunch bag instead of paper, and buy snacks in bulk instead of individually wrapped. Not able to finish your lunch? Bring your leftovers home to eat later.


13. Explore recycling jobs

Learn about careers in the recycling industry by watching this video. Think about whether you might like to work at one of those jobs someday.


14. Recycle some litter

Put on some gloves and take a walk in the park or along the roadside. Pick up the trash you find, being sure to keep a separate bag for recyclables.


15. Recycle batteries or light bulbs

Find a local place that accepts batteries or energy-efficient light bulbs (large home improvement stores often have bins for these). Set aside a box to collect yours and drop them off when it’s full.


16. Play a recycling game

Add a basketball hoop to your recycling bin and see who can master their long shots, or play a few rounds of Recycle Bingo. Find more recycling games here.


17. Upcycle a plastic bottle into something new

Raid the recycle bin and pull out a plastic bottle, then give it new life as a bird feeder, hanging planter, flower garland, or anything else you can dream up!


18. Make and hang a recycling sign

Design and create your own signs reminding others to recycle. Hang them in your house, at school, or out in your neighborhood.


19. Take a recycling selfie

Take a terrific pic of your classroom recycling, then share it with someone else. If you can, share it to your school’s social media page too!


20. Help a friend or another class recycle

Spread the news about recycling by helping someone you know add it to their routine too. Offer to help another classroom start a collection center or show a friend where to find the recycling bins at school.


21. Properly recycle bottle caps

Learn about your recycling program’s policy on bottle caps. Some programs prefer you leave the caps on the containers (never throw them in loose, though). Other areas recycle them separately, which means they can’t go in the same bin with your other containers. If that’s the case for your program, set up a bottle cap bin near your recycling station. Can’t recycle bottlecaps at all? Use them for mosaics, lockets, and even math manipulatives!


22. Recycle something new

Recycle something you haven’t before, like electronics, ink cartridges, or even toothbrushes! Learn about 9 school programs to help you recycle just about anything here.


23. Turn an old t-shirt into rags

Reusable rags are better than paper towels. Cut up an old t-shirt, sheet, or bath towel to make rags you can use over and over.


24. Clean out your classroom cupboards

De-clutter your room with your students. Recycle all the containers and papers you can, and use other materials for creative upcycling projects. Find lots of terrific ways to recycle and upcycle while you clean here.


25. Recycle or donate art supplies

Clean out your art supply stash and donate whatever you can to organizations like schools, churches, or daycares. For used-up items like markers or pens, use TerraCycle® to find out if there’s a program to recycle them.


26. Decorate your recycling bin

It’s fun to decorate your recycling bin, but it also helps draw more attention to it! Find inspiration here.


27. Make recycled paper

Turn junk mail and scrap paper into brand new paper to use for craft projects! Learn how it’s done here.


28. Read a book about recycling

Head to the library and check out a book about recycling. Read it together with your class and ask kids to share what they’ve learned over dinner with their families.


29. Write a recycling poem, song, or story

You’ll need your creativity for this recycling challenge! Make up a poem or story about the importance of recycling, or write a song to help you remember to make it part of your daily routine.


30. Try for a zero-waste trash day

This is the ultimate zero-waste challenge! See if you can go an entire day without needing to put anything in a trash can destined for a landfill. Now you’re really making a difference!


Get your 30-Day Zero-Waste Challenge Checklist


image of 30 day challenge calendar checklist



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