Below is a tip that was in one of my recent green newsletters:
The next time you want to save trash from landing in the garbage can, think of fun uses for it. Save all those plastic bottle tops in a big jar and transform them into colorful bracelets, charms or pins decorated with glitter, tiny toy trinkets or vintage fabrics. Reuse metal cans and mint tins to display and store your favorite magnets. Save candy wrappers and chip bags for making collages and whimsical jewelry.
When my girls were really young (back when Sesame Street was “can’t miss” tv, fish sticks were gourmet, and they were certain I knew absolutely everything) we made a couple of big “Craft Boxes.” They were actually boxes that a Gateway Computer came in, so they were already cool looking.
Inside the boxes, we put the regular suspects – glue, safe scissors, construction paper, glitter, etc. But the funnest part was finding unexpected things that’d serve a purpose. These were things that we would normally throw out. They even got their grandparents involved and noted that their grandmother, in particular, came up with some fascinating trash.
She was a school nurse and worked in the board of education offices. So, she was able to recycle the trash they’d normally throw out by bringing it to three little artists and their big cow boxes.
Even though my girls haven’t seen Sesame Street in ages and I’ve somehow lost my ability to know everything – they still love to make things. So, yes, we still have a craft box in the house. They love the idea of making jewelry and cool things to set around in their rooms. I’ve always thought that the creativity sparked by finding uses for castoffs was great for all involved.
Our cats also benefit from the recycling mindset. Our most playful cat, Alexa, has a couple of toy baskets with play pretties (an adorable phrase my grandmother used for toys) and some of her favorites are actually recycled trash. You know the little containers of icing that come with cinnamon rolls? The little silver discs on top of the plastic bowls send her into a frenzy of delight! She had one all over the kitchen floor this morning. She wore herself out and is sound asleep beside me.
Naturally, you want to always be sure that anything you recycle can’t hurt your little one, whether it has fur or not. One of my daughters, Brittany, has always required extra thought and consideration. You know the routine of asking yourself, “What would a child do with this? How could they conceivably hurt themselves? Could he/she choke?” I’d do this routine for my daughters Emily and Stephany – then I’d have to go a couple of extra steps for Miss Britt: “What would Brittany do with this? What weapon of mass destruction could Brittany create with this? Could Brittany replace one of her eyeballs with this? Would Brittany attempt a surgical procedure on a sibling, pet, or grandparent with these…”
You’ve heard of children who color outside of the lines? Brittany never saw lines, just opportunities! I don’t know where she got that from… I just… What? Oh yeah. She came by it honest.
Anyway, always be very careful – even children who try to stay within the lines are still children and will flirt with the edges. Nothing small enough to go into the mouth, nothing that could go around a neck, nothing that looks as though it’s begging to go into an outlet, nothing that has lead paint, nothing that could be sawed down and used to demand the contents of another child’s candy dish… don’t judge my child…. nothing that could cause harm, etc.
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.