recycling header

Practicing the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Think only superheroes save the world? Not true! You can, too, and all you need to do is get really, really good at recycling.

Recycling means reusing an object that is no longer useful, or turning it into a different object to be used in a new way.

Recycling is so important because if we just keep making new things and throwing away old things we will run out of raw materials, the planet will fill up with rubbish and the environment will become more polluted and endangered. 

Reduce Reuse Recycle


Lots of things can be recycled and used again:

metal for recycling


…such as food and drink cans can be cleaned and melted down to be re-made into brand new metal items such as cans and wrappers. This can take as little as six weeks!

recycled paper


…is sorted into different types then washed, mixed with water to make a slurry, and then reshaped and dried into new rolls of paper or cardboard. Paper can only be recycled a few times until it becomes useless.

Recycling glass


…is sorted by colour, crushed and melted, then reformed into new, useful containers. Glass can be recycled again and again.

But lots of things are not so easily recycled:

Phones, computers, plastic bags, batteries, and furniture often end up in rubbish dumps, where they can pollute the environment and harm wildlife.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If you can’t recycle you should reuse (pass something you’ve finished with on to someone who can use it), or reduce (only buy something if you really need to).


The Big Recycling Quiz
Children's Magazines for 12 year olds

Which of these items cannot be recycled?

A/ Used pizza boxes

B/ Cardboard boxes

C/ Empty baked bean tin

D/ Potato peelings

Kids Magazines for girls and boys

Which of these items cannot be made from recycled fabric?

A/ Jeans

B/ Carpets

C/ Pizza

D/ Football kit

UK Children's magazine

How long does it take an aluminum can to decompose?

A/ 10 years

B/ 20 years

C/ 50 years

D/ 100 years

Magazines for 6 year olds

How many trees are saved by recycling one tonne of paper?

A/ 1

B/ 5

C/ 10

D/ 15

Magazines for 7 year olds

Recycling two glass bottles saves enough energy to boil water for how many cups of tea?

A/ 2

B/ 5

C/ 7

D/ 10

(Answers at bottom of page…)

Four examples of recycling genius

Scientists who really care about recycling have come up with brilliant ways to improve our world by recycling old rubbish.

paint can be recycled

Selling old paint in new tins

A fifth of all paint sold in the UK is never used, and one company in Sussex is saving waste paint from the landfill. The paint is mixed together and treated, tested and filtered to check it’s a high quality, then resold as new!

Tree in full foliage

Turning food waste into a forest

Researchers worried about a tropical rainforest in Costa Rica, where lots of vegetation has been cut down, made a deal with an orange-juice factory. They took the discarded orange husks and unloaded them in the endangered forest, and then left it alone for a long time. Ten years later the orange peels had fertilised the land and the jungle had completely regrown!

Recycling nets into carpets

Making fishing nets into carpets

If fishermen or women lose their fishing nets, they sometimes wash up on beaches and make a mess – or worse, get tangled up in boats or damage sea life. But in the Philippines, a charity has teamed up with a carpet manufacturer to encourage locals to rescue old fishing nets and sell them to the program. The fishing nets are made of nylon, which can be turned into yarn to make into new carpets.

Recycling toilet rolls

Conjuring roof tiles out of toilet paper

A toilet paper factory in Mexico found that a lot of paper ‘sludge’ was produced as a by-product. To stop this sludge becoming just more waste, the company found a way to turn it into thick roof tiles that are cheap to use in making homes for the local community.

Science & Nature Experiment: Make Your Own…


Lots of plastic packaging that comes into our homes cannot be recycled – from bread bags to ice cream wrappers. One way of saving this rubbish from the landfill is to turn it into ecobricks.

What is an ecobrick?
It’s a clean, empty plastic bottle filled with unrecyclable plastic, packed tightly inside and sealed.

Why are they good for the envionment?
A lot of plastic can be fitted inside an empty bottle rather than polluting the environment and harming animals.

What can I do with an ecobrick?
You can send it to a community that is building with them. Find your nearest drop-off place on
You could build up a collection of your own. You only need sixteen ecobricks to make a stool.


You will need…

  • A clean and empty plastic bottle, with lid.
  • Lots of plastic packaging you no longer need.
  • A wooden spoon.


  1. Clean any food packaging so no food or dirt goes into the bottle.
  2. Cut the plastic into smaller pieces if needed, to fit it in.
  3. As you fill the bottle with plastic use the end of the wooden spoon to pack it in tightly. You want as little air to be left in the ecobrick as possible.
  4. The ecobrick must reach a minimum weight to be useful:
    • 500 ml bottle must weigh at least 167 g
    • 1 l bottle must weigh at least 333 g
    • 1.75 l bottle must weigh at least 583 g
    • 2 l bottle must weigh at least 666 g
  5. When your bottle is full, fasten the lid on tightly.
a world ready for recycling


When paper or card has been covered in food it can’t be recycled

You can change plastic into many things, but you can’t eat it!

It would stick around in the ground longer than your life, so it’s better to recycle it into something to use another time.

Recycled paper is great for saving trees, but at least we can grow more trees too!

A cup of tea can be a reward for good recycling!

Subscriptions and back issues of Brilliant Brainz, a magazine for creative children aged 6-12, are available now from the SHOP link above. Help your bright spark explore and surge ahead in life!

Izzy Kids Brilliant Brainz Magazine