One of my favorite things about Earth Day, is the opportunity to get crafty! There’s nothing more disappointing, though, than when the craft projects I see kids take on waste paper and other materials that we’re trying to teach them to conserve. I mean, the average American uses more than 700 pounds of paper every year, and paper in the U.S. represents almost 16% of the solid waste in landfills. Yikes! That got me thinking … what if we came up with a list of craft projects that in and of themselves helped teach kids about conservation. Maybe they could even help you in your efforts to cut down on waste.
Well here’s a collection of crafts that will help both you and your kids conserve resources, and not only that, they’ll help you have a lovely time together.
Happy Earth Day, everyone!
Paper monster (recycling bin):
How cute is this? What better way to teach your kids to recycle than creating a google-y eyed monster that only eats paper? Instead of saying, “Don’t forget to recycle that paper,” you can say, “Don’t forget to feed the paper monster.” Now, which one sounds more fun to you? Of course, you have to make sure that you make this paper monster out of recycled paper bags. (Spotted on Parenting.com)
Upcycle T-shirts into produce shopping bags:
A plastic bag habit is hard to break. One thing that might help is involving your kids, and creating a whole collection of shopping bags out of old, un-used t-shirts. They are so simple to make, so useful, and they’re a great way to re-use unwanted clothing. Not only that, but they’re small enough that you can store some in your car, purse, backpack, etc. We spotted these on Delia Creates, but there’s also a terrific no-sew version on Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom.
Opt for chalk:
The temptation to buy your kids brand new art supplies is strong. I totally get that. It also seems so easy in the moment to grab for some printer paper when you want them to get crafty, but this doesn’t really fall under the “reuse, reduce, recycle” mantra we’re trying to encourage. Why not create a little personal chalk board your kids can play with to their heart’s content. This little pocket-sized version is made out of an old mint tin and is perfect for slipping into the front pocket of a backpack for on-the-go creativity. What else could you re-purpose into a reusable drawing station? (Spotted on PBS Kids.)
DIY shower timer:
It’s not only pretty hard to get my kids into the shower, it’s really hard to get them out! Don’t ask me about the logic of it, but meanwhile I want to start a conversation with them about water conservation. Hopefully it’s harder to say “5 more minutes” to this little guy, than to me. (Spotted on Parenting.com.)
Hold on to that scrap paper:
Create a pretty system for holding on to your scrap paper. Not only will it come in handy with countless craft projects, it’ll create a game out of not wasting paper, for your children. (Spotted on Cooks, Cleans, Plays with Paper)
Soda bottle compost
This is such a great way for kids to learn about composting. Not only that, but at the end of the “day” you’ll have some nice rich soil to add to your garden. The lovely folks over at Busy Mommy Media have a great tutorial on how to get started.
As your kids keep growing (and ripping through their jeans) are you going through clothes pretty quickly? Some stuff just isn’t good enough to be a hand-me-down. Why not teach your children about creative reuse and start a rag rug together? With a mix of bright colors and patterns, this would be the perfect addition to any kids room. (Spotted on 1 Dog Woof.)
Light switch reminder
Have you read the Lorax with your kid? It’s an Earth Day favorite, and once you’ve read it, there will be no better reminder to turn off that light switch and conserve energy than his bristle-y little face. This Pinterest user printed out pictures from the book and mod podged them to a light switch cover.
Make your own paper
Not only are these handmade, recycled papers a wonderful way to use up old newspaper, and not dip into the bleached, white, store-bought stuff, they are just so pretty! Imagine spending a day outside with your kids, collecting seeds, petals, and other little gems to embed in your very own custom paper collection. I love it! (Spotted on Makezine.)