Game On! Recycling Scavenger Hunt Ideas


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Recycling Treasure Hunt
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Phil Hawksworth

Scavenger hunts are fun for all ages. Combine a scavenger hunt with the 3Rs and a fun challenge comes packaged with some hidden bonuses, like learning about recycling and cleaning up old junk. Here are some recycling scavenger hunt ideas to use for Earth Day (Apr 22), National Recycling Day (Nov 15), or any day you feel like.

Set your own rules and time for completion, and work as a team, as a family, for an organization in which you’re a member, or as a way to break up the routine at work. Some items on the list work better in your home or office, respectively. Holding a Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Scavenger Hunt also helps engage younger children about small actions take, decisions they make and that how fits into the larger scheme of things.

Your 3R Scavenger Hunt revolves around a combination of finding objects or performing tasks on a list you design and provide to participants. Decide if people should work as individuals, in pairs, or on a team and make sure everyone has checklist. Emphasize that just about any item can be recycled or reused.

Here’s a quick sample list to get you started, and there are tons of other lists and ideas online too. This sample list works especially well if you’re planning to do a scavenger hunt with kids:

  1. Find something that makes a noise when you crush it.
  2. Look for something that you can fold.
  3. Find something that has a bottom but no top.
  4. Find something with a label that peels off.
  5. Pick up a piece of litter and throw it in the proper bin.
  6. Find something of a chosen color.
  7. Spot 3 different recycling or compost bins.
  8. Look for something that can be reused more than once.
  9. If it’s not unsanitary, grab a plastic bottle out of the trash and transfer it into a recycling bin.
  10. Find something made with mixed materials such as both plastic and metal.
  11. Look for plastic with a number 5 on the bottom. Number 5 plastics are widely used and easy to recycle.
  12. Look for something flattened.
  13. Find something with good potential to make into an art project.

If you collect items, consider donating them. Plenty of places in your community will be able to use items collected. For example, find out what to do with old, used cans of paint that you no longer need without wasting them.

Photo 3R Scavenger Hunt

Instead of collecting items, take pictures of stuff you find instead. Grab your iPhone or digital camera, or a Polaroid for extra hipster charm.

A mobile app called RecyclePix lets you send a picture of yourself recycling and you’ll earn Rewards Points for stuff you might already be purchasing regularly. Incorporate this into your 3R Scavenger Hunt- check out their page for more details.

Alternatively, print your pictures out and make a collage so you’ll remember your cool 3R Scavenger Hunt. Post a few on your online social networks or share them with us on our wall.

When you’re done collecting items, discuss what you found and which items were particularly easy or hard to find and why. Figure out what still has useful value, or which instead will be given a second life as something else.

Hold a follow-up contest to see who can make the most original art project out of found items.

Consider awarding prizes to whoever finishes the 3R Scavenger Hunt first, or the best art project. Keep in mind rewards that promote thoughtful consumption or not buying anything at all, such as a seasonal pass to a nature or forest preserve or cool products made from recycled materials.

Earn Cash From Old Stuff in Drawers or Shelves

Here’s a hand-picked collection of easy-to-read articles that help guide you on recycling other possible items on your checklist, such as books, board games, clothing, used electronics, and eyeglasses. Click on the links for each item to find drop-off sites and donation guidelines.

Super bonus: See if you are eligible to make money from recycling items found on your list. The sale of the items you find can serve as a fundraising event for your school class, club, sports team or other local meet-up. Money raised in a recycling fundraiser can go to your pocket directly, or given away to another worthy cause.

Pick up a copy of the Fundraiser Encyclopedia and choose a place that will pay you to recycle. It’s easy, fun, and rewarding!

For any items you’re not sure about, type them into our search bar to find recycling tips. Good luck on your scavenger hunt and practicing the 3Rs!

Links to products featured on RecycleScene are affiliate links. We try and only feature products that close the recycling loop. Make a purchase of recommended products on our site, and we get a small percentage of affiliate commission to maintain our site. Read more in the Terms of Use & Disclosure link in footer. Thanks!


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