Free Guide: Inspire School Recycling With These Easy Ideas

Get motivated.

Free Guide: Inspire School Recycling With These Easy Ideas


Sometimes, it can be hard to stay the course. We understand it can be hard to inspire school recycling. The tips in this guide will help you stay motivated and continually engaged so your Rally can be a success!



Stay Motivated

Stay motivated and on target to keep on getting better even when you’ve hit a rough patch!



Inspire Student Engagement

Inspire school recycling by brainstorming with students to come up with fun new ideas and activities!

  • Share interesting videos to show how recycling works. Start by sharing the videos below to get inspired:
  • Tie recycling to a memorable experience to help engage students.
    • Try a do-it-yourself (DIY) project with recycling objects.
    • Conduct experiments that incorporate recyclables.
    • Create a skit or video to show others why they should recycle.
  • Associate recycling with other “green” activities. The more you recycle, the more time you get to spend in the new school garden planting vegetables or on the nature trail identifying birds.



Maintain Momentum

Maintain momentum with these easy ideas!

  • Discuss how and why you can keep recycling even when not at school.
  • Foster a culture of courteous accountability by encouraging students to teach their peers about recycling in ways that are thoughtful and respectful.
  • Get creative and use rewards to encourage your school and community to recycle more.
  • Make recycling a game—there are so many fun ways to do it. Check out these ideas for inspiration.
  • Relay the benefits of recycling in a short video with a catchy tune, silly dance, or attention-grabbing drama.
  • Create a recycling hall of fame in the hallway by putting up pictures of students. (Hint: Use recycled paper!)
  • Keep it simple and utilize classic ways to reward students but put a creative twist on it!
  • Offer to dress up in a funny costume or allow the students to have a little extra fun with you if they reach a milestone.
  • Invite a local celebrity to school. Maybe the weatherman from the local news station, firefighters, high school athletes, or cheerleading squads.
  • Host a competition between school clubs to see who can recycle the most.
  • Coordinate solutions for sporting events. Enlist volunteers to help pick up recyclables and waste. For added fun, make it a timed competition.
  • Encourage students to perform a skit about recycling and air it on the school television or announcements. Relate it to popular TV shows or movies!
  • Partner with teachers across different disciplines to incorporate recycling into lesson units.

Free Guide: Inspire School Recycling With These Easy Ideas


Celebrate Results

Celebrate results and recognize the hard work your team and school put into recycling. Let those stars shine! Check out our Celebratory Event Guide for suggestions.


TIP: No time to plan? Use existing school events to recognize and reward!



Share the News

Share the news so everyone can feel good about how great you’re doing!

  • Conduct media outreach to local newspapers, TV, and radio stations to spread the good news.
  • Involve everyone who contributed to your success! If your local businesses helped you, have them swing by to enjoy a school party.
  • Take photos so students have something to look back on next year. Share them on social media!



Boost Collections

Inspire school recycling and take your Recycle Rally to the next level!

  • Consider increasing the number or size of your recycling bins if they fill up too quickly. The Bin Placement Guide has details to help determine where to locate them.
  • Reach out to those outside the school and classroom. Ask students to write letters, knock on doors, and hand out flyers (with the help and permission of an adult)!
  • Send volunteers to collect bottles and cans where they are being consumed in your community.
  • Partner with local businesses such as gyms, restaurants, and shops to collect their recycled materials.
  • Plan recycling drives and encourage everyone in your community to bring in their bottles and cans!

Free Guide: Inspire School Recycling With These Easy Ideas


Real Talk From Real Schools

Here’s how others inspire school recycling and make Recycle Rally a success.


Atchison High School

“Any time a person buys a bottle of water or pop, they sign their name on it. If they recycle in a special container, we would draw a name for free stuff like a ticket to the next game, free food at the concession stand, free school T-shirt, etc.”


Bednarcik Junior High School

“We have been working with our alderman, who is very supportive. He has helped us communicate with some local businesses and with the park district to make sure recycling bins are added. He has attended some of our meetings and, in return, we have helped promote and volunteer at city recycling events and cleanups. We were able to be recognized at one of the city council meetings for our work and students were able to talk about what they did.”


Crain Elementary School

“For February, our students will use their recycling bags to vote for which principal gets to kiss a pig. The one with the most weight gets to give the big smooch!”


Episcopal Day School

“Recycle Ride of Fame: Kids who consistently recycle and meet a certain goal get to ride in a limo to a local pizza place for lunch and enjoy time outside of school with other recycling stars.”


Forest Ridge Academy

“We have offered an ice-cream sundae party to the classroom with the most participation.”


H&M Potter Elementary School

“We advertised in our school newsletter that we were able to earn double points during (a special promotion) one week, and the bags flowed in.”


Maverick Elementary

“We have decorated our hallways to show support of movies that have come out showing that their stars support recycling. For example, we used R2D2 and made him into a recycling unit. Lots of fun.”


Mesquite Elementary

“Because we give all of the proceeds from our recycling to the local food bank, I feel that this can be a motivating factor to get people to recycle.”


Milford Middle School

“My students collect all the bottles and cans from around the school. They then dump them into a designated bin to ‘count’ them. Every time the bin fills it counts as an XL garbage bag and we log it in on our Recycle Rally tracking sheet and then log it on the computer. Overall very easy!”


Ocee Elementary School

“I think the administration is more willing to let us do various contests and such at school with the Recycle Rally behind it rather than just some wacky idea I came up with.”


Orchard Hills School

“This year we are partnering with a Girl Scout group who is taking the recycling in to raise money for a local horse rescue place. This and posters about it have been really motivating to the students.”


Pine Forest High School

“We have used ice cream parties, candy/cookies as incentives. Our school’s positive behavior program also gives tickets to students to earn things in the school store.”


Prairie View School

“Through our Keep America Beautiful affiliate, we have been able to coordinate much more than just a recycling program. We have developed a way of life year-round. In the summer, the students assist in the community garden, lake cleanups, and continue to recycle.”


Progress Elementary School

“Our varsity basketball games and wrestling events have been a great opportunity for kids to roam the bleachers for empty bottles and cans.”


Sandalwood High School

“Of the members in our environmental club that participate in the recycling effort, the person with the greatest total will be crowned king or queen of recycling, complete with crown or tiara and plaque.”


Inspiring and Improving Guide

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Recycle Rally

Recycle Rally is a free K-12 program that provides rewards and tools to help enhance recycling at your school!

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