STREAM Activity: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle!

Activity best for children age 2 and up

At the Museum, we are celebrating Earth Day all month long. The United Nations designed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to create a better Earth for all people and the planet. Today, we are going to talk about SDG #12. Goal #12 is about reducing waste through reduction, recycling, and reuse. What does it mean to reduce, recycle, and reuse items? If you have a lunch box that you use everyday, you are helping to reduce (make less) the trash of a plastic bag to carry your lunch. When you take an empty can of beans and recycle it, that used can will be made into a new can. If you give the clothes that are too small on you to someone who can use them, that is reusing an item.

One way that you can reuse items in your neighborhood is to look for a Little Free Library. This is an organization that shares books. It is so popular that it is now around the world! By sharing books around your neighborhood you are doing two things: reducing trash and helping to reuse items. We recently added two Little Free Libraries to San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum!

Another way that you can help with Goal #12 is to reduce, recycle, and reuse in your home. Today, we are going to make signs that you can put on large containers that will help you use this United Nations sustainability goal at home.

Materials you’ll need:



Large empty containers

Guiding Questions:

Can this item be reused, recycled, or repurposed?

What is this item made from?

Where do these materials come from?

How can this item be used in another way?


On some paper either draw or write out Reuse and Recycle. You can have a grown up help you.

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The Reuse sign will be for items you don’t need anymore, but can pass on to someone else. Things like small clothes or toys you have outgrown playing with.

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The Recycle sign will be for items that can be recycled when your trash is picked up. This can be items like tin cans, hard plastic containers, or cardboard egg containers. Have your grown up check what items that include by checking out your city’s recycling program.

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After you have made the signs, tape them to the large containers you can use to collect these items.

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Grown ups, are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!

Reading Connection
One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul
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Real-World Connections 
Look in your neighborhood to see if there are garage sales. This is a great way to reuse items. Also look for Little Free Libraries and think about passing on your old toys and clothing as these are also great ways to reuse items.