How my daughter taught me of the importance of recycling
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How my daughter taught me about recycling

25 September 2019 By Linsey Boyle- Early Years Campaign Manager at YPO

young children collecting recycling box

My name is Linsey, I am one of the campaign managers here at YPO and I have recently been developing one of our newest early years resources - the Little Learners magazine! For this I am continuously inspired by my 5 year old daughter.

Plastic isn’t always the best way


It’s amazing what you learn when you become a parent for the first time. How much patience you really have and how much more aware you are of your surroundings.

I always try to teach my daughter about the importance of the world we live in and how best to look after it. That our actions have consequences to our environment, and yes sometimes I find that I am often repeating myself and telling her how to do things properly. But then I started to realise that I too was learning from her. And it’s such a joy!

Looking at life through your early years


I often compare my early childhood memories to the opportunities my daughter has now, and although neither one of us has had a happier childhood than the other, I know that mine was enriched with outdoor play, going on adventures and using my imagination with what I had.

Toys were not as popular when I was young, and although I did have some that I played with day in day out, these have all still been passed on to my daughter. Children nowadays though are often spoilt, grandparents buying the latest toys for their grandchildren for example, my daughter included. But I've realised this isn’t often what she really wants.

She thrives on the simple things; playing outdoors, drawing what she’s seen or learnt that week – they really are amazing little beings! She has the imagination to play with anything, and I realised I just needed to let her explore the world for herself.

My own epiphany


During the last few years I’ve witnessed the effects of global warming and ocean pollution but never felt that I could make a significant difference. As a working parent, having such a busy life means that I quite often opt for convenience over anything else.

Lunches or evening meals were packaged in plastic that I unconsciously threw into my recycling bin. But after a change in my circumstances I found myself with more time to see what my generation had created through single-use plastic packaging.

I was also starting to notice how many plastic toys my daughter had, most of them hardly played with anymore. But in order for them to be recycled, I needed to take them to a charity otherwise they were thrown away. It was a complete eye opener and up until that moment I felt helpless to the cause.

It’s never too late to make a difference for the next generation


I started with making a conscious effort to reduce the use of plastic at home, by reducing the use of carrier bags, collecting and recycling water bottles and milk bottles and avoiding food waste. I tried to educate family of the different recycling facilities that we could and should've been using. But when my daughter was telling me about what she was learning at school I knew that the next generation was where I needed to be focusing.

As I said, my adult life has been all about convenience and saving time, it still is, but I am more conscious about the effects of pollution and my carbon footprint, knowing what I can do to make a difference now. It has now become something me and my daughter enjoy together, recycling household items and providing protection for the wildlife in the garden. Small measures in a family home can make big differences. It's easy to make being environmentally friendly, fun!

Helping little learners understand our impact on the environment


Working at a large established organisation such as YPO can often mean that introducing changes can often take some time to embed. However, I am lucky enough to be the editor of the Little Learners magazine. It is here that I quickly realised this was where I could start to make a small difference.

I was determined to make this issue plastic free and switch the wrapper to a bio-degradable material. I did some research and after some time planning, the magazine was printed on fully recyclable paper with a biodegradable potato starch film cover. That wasn’t enough to impact the next generation though, so I also wanted to make the magazine focus on ocean pollution, recycling and protecting wildlife in the UK. 

If I didn't try and educate my daughter and others like her, about the importance of recycling plastic and taking care of the environment, then the outdoors that they love to play in so much might not be there for their children.

With the involvement of the buyers and our suppliers I’m pleased to say that this eco-friendly magazine has finally arrived. I’m delighted that it will help nurseries and early years settings become more environmentally focused and help all our little learners on their own eco-friendly journey too.

I hope the legacy of this eco-friendly Little Learners will continue to inspire the next generation!

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to read one of our Little Learners magazine with your early years children then please click here and head straight to our eco-friendly issue 9 magazine here.

Categories: Education


Linsey Boyle (YPO - Editor of Little Learners) on 08 October 2019

Hello, Thank you for your kind comments about this article. I’m pleased to hear that you found it a positive and interesting read. I agree that we should always be mindful with our everyday activities and reducing purchasing single-use plastics is something I try to do more and more. I try to make simple changes on my journey to becoming more environmentally friendly and introduce reusing what I already have, such as plastic bottles. You should see my collection of repurposed bottles that I use as simple storage solutions for food and liquids! None the less, until plastic-free alternatives become more readily available, I wanted to share some ideas and activities that incorporate the 3 R’s of waste management; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Cathleen Clarke (Dyson Perrins C of E Academy) on 03 October 2019

Hello, This was a positive and interesting article, thank you. I just noticed that you are recycling water bottles though? Better not to buy them in the first place really.

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