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It’s never too early to start recycling

By: Jasmine Walker

Recycling: a process that is said to be a responsibility of each and every individual, but at what age does 
the importance of recycling strike a person? One would not particularly think of an age, however, that
same person would not think a five year old to see the importance and responsibility of recycling. 
Back in April, Michelle Sheldon, President of Eco Promotional Products, inc. spoke at the Vernon Hills, IL 
School House Program for Earth day. What she didn’t expect was for five year old, Eric Hernandez to 
know so much about recycling. That day Eric rushed to his mother to show her his daily Kindergarten 
progress report. “Look Mom!! Jack’s mom came and talked to us.” Dawn was really shocked that he was 
ecstatic about it. Eric was really proud he could answer questions and participate in Michelle’s Earth Day 
presentation, he knew everything she was talking about. What stuck out the most in Eric’s mind was the
recycling symbol. “He could point out that it’s important to look for the triangle, it solidified what the 
symbol meant to Eric,” said the proud parent. 

Eric’s mother, Dawn, commented that the family has been recycling long before her kids were born. “Our
kids would see us putting things in the recycling bin so they’d ask my husband and I what we were 
doing. Now, it’s been incorporated into their lives.” Through observation and the book Michael Recycle, 
Eric began to grasp the concept of recycling around the age of 3. “Eric thought Michael Recycle was cool, 
now he understands the importance of cleaning up after himself,” said Dawn. 

So how does Eric, who just turned 5 a few weeks ago learn to care about recycling? Eric’s mother laughs 
as she replies that she never realized he was processing the concept of recycling. But the Hernandez 
family has always followed the principle to teach by example: having a visible recycling bin in the kitchen 
and in the garage, has been very prominent for their kids. Educating their children about the basic 
recycling symbol has made Eric and his sister feel like they are a part of something and they have their 
own responsibilities. The ultimate message sent to Eric is, “Not to waste things! It’s not just recycling, its 
reusing and reducing, treat the earth like a person. The kids understand the more time you spend in the 
shower the more water you waste. We can all do simple things: turn the lights off, donate things we do
not use, and not take anything for granted.” At the end of the day, it seems as though there isn’t an age 
to young, to teach children about important concepts like recycling. Dawn closes by saying, “Absolutely, 
it’s a great idea. We should do what we can, and when it comes to your kids, they’re little policemen. It 
makes an impression at an early age, they’re in their learning stages, where you can really let 
it soak in to their minds and become a part of their lives.”