The biggest things we are about is recycling, donating & re-purposing. So basically we try to cover our 3 R's, "Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle."
Recycling is the easy part for us. Although living in apartment communities where storage is tight and it doesn't seem like recycling is really easy, I see where others can be discouraged, but it is possible and don't forget that you can always look at your cans and bottles as a tiny bit of savings for fun cash.
Our biggest thing really is donating. Donating is just a way to help not only ourselves an the trash situation, but also foster the understanding and joy of giving in our children. Forget Christmas gifts as that lesson, I think it is a year long lesson with donating. I am blessed that Riley has really understood this. We always hoped if we start when she's young she wouldn't fear the thought of getting rid of old toys, but enjoy it. Since before she was able to comprehend what was going on I would get together whatever outgrown baby clothes, toys and for sure any of my pregnancy items that were unneeded an give them to whoever was of need. As she got bigger we would try about every three months to sit down and go through things. Now she is almost four so the growing is a little slower and toys at this stage aren't as fast to be below her comprehension level so we don't do our sit downs as often. Now she instigates the time. This is the first year I think she has truly caught on. She will hand me toys and say, "I'm ready to give this to a new kid Mommy." Melts my heart. Like they say kids are little sponges and it's never to early to start. We don't have to battle it out and she's always so happy to know her stuff is about to go to a new home with someone who can appreciate it and give the item the use time it deserves. It's just making your child understand that its a good thing an not a event that should dramatize them. Make it into a game or assure them that with the space that is made there is room for new items or even just more room to play. As long as you make it a habit, avoid doing it with force, an show your child how proud you are of them by choosing to let go of even the smallest items they will light up and just want to give more.
As for re-purposing, SOOOO EASY!!! We all have seen a million of things we can do with toilet paper rolls, milk jugs an what not, but don't forget those great little jars and tubs can have more then food storage use. Here's what I mean:
If your house is anything like mine I'm sure your little one has just about as much little toys as our daughter does an I'm sure you are more then over stepping on them, but spending money on a tub just to hold such little things is kind of ridiculous. Really over having them scattered about? Or maybe that was just my thoughts? I just was tired of seeing a little animal on the floor, more little animals in room in a bucket...and even more floating around in her toy box, but I really couldn't bring my self to buy one of the tubs that hold her puzzles and what not just for these things, so we came up with this idea. Which of course could probably done way more extravagant, but this was more intended for Riley to have pride in the item so she would stick to using it.
Old jug, construction paper, glue, scissors, markers & stickers.
Really most was up to her, I just measured & cut the paper.
She had me label it, but of course in the colors of her choice and she went crazy with stickers. Then she got to glue it on. Really simple. Though puff paint did come to mind before we went to the construction paper method. If we went that route she could had covered the thing in stickers an pain, but this was a fast less messy direction.
Finally these guys got a home! Best part is with a lid, no more spilling of little plastic animals after the clean up.
She was very happy to fill the jug. as you see on the table is another glass jar. We used that one to store her shells. Shells of course must be seen, not hidden. Hehe.
If you are looking for more ideas or activities to educate your child about the purpose of the 3 R's, Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, check out this link: EDCO for Kids. It has a ton of great things to do!
Oh & for you Jack Johnson fans: