Recycling for Kids: How to Encourage Creativity, Reduce Clutter, and Protect the Earth

Recycling for Kids: How to Encourage Creativity, Reduce Clutter, and Protect the Earth

Deirdre-MundyPosted by Deirdre Mundy, guest blogger

My kids love to create. They spend their down time drawing, creating elaborate sculptures, and making collages. While I’m happy that they’ve found something they love, all of their artwork quickly adds up to one big mess. In an attempt to control the clutter and protect the environment, I’ve started using their creativity to teach them lessons about recycling for kids.

Lesson 1: Get Creative with Recycled Supplies

Kids don’t need expensive art kits to express themselves. To cut down on waste, encourage your children to repurpose other items as artwork. Raid recycling bins. Many offices recycle paper that has only been used on one side or that hasn’t been used at all. Ask family and friends to keep your kids in mind as they walk by the recycling bin at work. This approach will snag your kids some interesting paper stock for crafting and drawing.

Your own recycling bin can be a source for materials, as well. Cereal boxes and packaging from favorite personal care products quickly become impressive sculptures. Cans can also contribute to creativity, but make sure they’re clean and have no sharp edges before you give them to your children.

Finally, check the backyard for inspiration. Sticks, rocks, flowers, acorns, and other natural materials can lead to excellent crafts. Plain old nontoxic white glue and some patience will transform them into incredible works of art.

Lesson 2: Display and Cut the Clutterrecycling for kids

We’ve all met that mom who carefully frames and saves every drawing that her child produces. She must have an impossibly large house! For the rest of us, it’s not an option to save every drawing, collage, and craft from every child’s formative years. To limit clutter, designate one shelf in the house as the “museum.” Give each child a set space to display his or her favorite artwork. If your child wants to add something new to the exhibit, something else has to go.

Encourage your children to express their creativity in edible ways. Fruit and veggie sculptures can entertain for an afternoon, and then head into the pot for dinner. Cookie dough creations and decorated cakes become dessert. Edible art lets children create without leading to more clutter.

Lesson 3: Recycle and Compost

After you’ve enjoyed a piece of artwork for a while, take a digital photo so that you can save it forever. If a piece is especially important to your child, save it in a portfolio or give it to a doting grandparent. If it’s beautiful but has no sentimental value, consider donating it to your local nursing home.

Put less important artworks in the recycling bin or compost pile. Creativity doesn’t have to mean waste and clutter. By practicing good stewardship even in artwork, you’ll pass on important lessons about recycling for kids.

Photo credit: Silly Eagle Books; Flickr