RE Learning Lab Challenge – The Three R’s!

This week’s Learning Lab Challenge comes to us from Karen White, and she invites us to take part in a challenge that includes a “Three R’s” scavenger hunt. Are you ready to see what you can find?

The Three R’s – Recycle, Reuse, and Reduce


Take the Three R’s Challenge! Try these challenges first, and then check the answers and ideas later to see how you did.


The first challenge is for recycling! Recycling is the action or process of converting waste products into something useable. See if you can find these items to recycle:


  1. Find at least two different kinds of plastics that you can recycle. (Hint: look for a number on the bottom of the container surrounded by the recycling symbol.)
  2. Find at least three different kinds of materials other than plastics that can be recycled.
  1. Find at least three different kinds of paper that can be recycled.


The next challenge is Re-using! See if you can find at least three items that you can reuse for something else. For example, you could use an empty jar to hold pens.


The last challenge is to Reduce. This one is a little harder! Find at least three ways that you can reduce the amount of trash and recyclables around your house. Be as creative as you can! For example, you could use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused instead of throwing away paper ones.


BONUS CHALLENGE: Find one thing in your house that is MADE OUT OF recycled materials!




How did you do? 

Here is some information about recycling and some tips and ideas to make doing  the three R’s easier.


Recycling answers:


  1. Find at least two different kinds of plastics that can be recycled -Some plastics can be recycled and some can’t. Look for the numbers with the arrows on the bottom or sides of plastic items. Plastics that are numbered 1 and 2 are the best and easiest to recycle. These plastics can be turned into other plastic containers and other things. Certain kinds of clothing or building materials are just a few examples of things that plastics can be turned into. Number three plastic (also called PVC ) should not be recycled or used as it contains harmful chemicals and is bad for the environment. Plastics numbered 4 and 5 can be recycled but most places don’t take them so they should be reused or discarded. Plastic number 6 is polystyrene, otherwise known as Styrofoam. It cannot be recycled, never breaks down in the environment except into tiny pieces which never really go away, and is full of harmful chemicals. Try not to use it! Plastic number 7 is at the end of its life and cannot be recycled. The number of times that plastics can be recycled is limited so we should try to limit our use of them.


  1. Find at least three different kinds of materials other than plastics that can be recycled. There are many more materials than plastics that can be recycled. Examples are paper, aluminum cans, metal cans, cardboard and glass. Glass and metal are materials that can be melted down and recycled over and over again. It’s much better to recycle these materials than to mine the earth for the raw materials needed to make them. For example, if you recycle just five glass containers per week, you will save enough energy to power a small florescent bulb for 35 hours!


  1. Find at least three different kinds of paper or paper products -There are many different kinds of paper that can be recycled. A few include cardboard, fiber board like cereal boxes, newspapers, magazines and computer printer paper. The types of paper and paper products that cannot be recycled include any kind of paper that is dirty with food or grease, waxed paper, and paper drink cups and plates (these have a waxed coating on them). Recycling one ton of paper can save 17 trees, 7, 000 gallons of water and 380 gallons of oil.


Reusing answers – Reusing things is an excellent way to cut down on the amount of trash we create. The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas:

Plastic bags – wash sandwich bags, let dry and reuse. Plastic grocery bags can be reused for many things including for trash and for future grocery trips!

Clean and reuse plastic containers with lids for food storage.

Styrofoam egg cartons are great for starting seedling plants

Reuse envelopes that are not torn – cross out old address or tape a new address on top of the old one

Old toothbrushes are great for art projects and for cleaning!

Save wrapping paper and bows from gifts to use for future gifts

Re-gift old toys that are in good condition instead of buying something new


Reducing your trash answers – This is the hardest one for most people but also the most important! Here are some ideas:


Buy and wear used clothing

Use reusable water bottles instead of buying bottled water

Don’t buy drinks in disposable cups

Don’t buy things that are over packaged

Instead of buying cookies and chips that are in bags that can’t be recycled, make your own!

Don’t buy individually packaged snacks, buy bigger bags or boxes

Carry your own to go containers in your car for use when you eat out and have leftovers

Stop using disposable plates, cutlery and napkins

Buy used toys


Bonus Question: Find one thing in your house that is made out of recycled materials – this can be difficult as some things do not say if they are made out of recycled materials or not. If it says on the product that it’s made with post-consumer waste or materials that mean that the item is at least partly recycled. A few examples could be certain types of clothing, building materials, and some pencils or pens could all be made out of recycled plastic bottles. Some cards and papers are made using recycled paper. What did you find?


Be a recycling, reducing and reusing champion! Thanks for taking the challenge and keep up the good work!