Resources on responsible parenting often advise parents to use fun activities to teach important
values to their children. In this article we discuss how to introduce your kids to the idea of taking
care of the environment through activities that involve the use of recycled materials.
While recycling can be a complex idea for children to understand, there are lots of practical ways in
which you can introduce the idea from an early age. Teaching your kids about recycling is not only
about separating household waste and encouraging them to do the same, but actually showing
them the process. One practical – and fun – way of doing this is to use craft activities to create
something completely new out of something old, whether it’s a drinks bottle, magazines, or even
those clothes that they’ve out-grown.
1) New ideas for recycling old paper
Newspapers and magazines have a habit of collecting around the house, but there are plenty of
crafty ways to reuse them that are perfect for kids. Collage is a classic craft that never goes out
of fashion, and kids can spend hours arranging their favourite clippings to make a scrapbook or
artwork for the kitchen wall. Or why not push the idea a bit further and help them cut out small
squares or triangles of vibrant colours and then grouping similar colours together to make a mosaic
effect? You can look at images of mosaic floors and artwork online or in books to get inspiration.
Believe it or not, paper is a great source for bead-making. If you have young daughters, they will
love the chance to make their own jewellery. Newspapers can be transformed into beads simply
by soaking them in hot water for a few hours, then squeezing them dry and covering with glue
until they harden enough for you to drill a hole through. Similarly, you can roll small sections of
magazine paper or newspaper to make fun beads.
2) Make your plastic go further by recycling it around the house
Plastic is one of the least-biodegradable materials around. It’s good to make sure your kids know
this so that they can think of ways to avoid throwing them in the bin. Fortunately, plastic bottles and
pots already come in a convenient shape for lots of jobs around the home. You can recycle the
products into pencil holders, plant pots, or money banks. Helping them make a piggy bank for their
rupees encourages them to be economical with money as well as the environment – you can help
them decorate their new bank with paint, glitter, or scraps of felt or paper.
With your help, they can also use the built-in shape of the bottle to make napkin rings: cutting
circular strips from the middle and wrapping with scraps of wool or thread. Your children will grab
at the chance to raid your sewing basket!
3) Give clothes a new life by recycling them
If you have piles of worn-out or holey clothes that can’t be given away, get your kids to think up a
new job for them. Reusing household objects can also teach kids to be generous with their time
and spirit. If you’re overflowing with mismatched baby socks your child has outgrown, you could
stuff and sew them into animal shapes like birds to make a mobile for when the next one comes
along. This can be a nice opportunity for older siblings to do something for a younger brother or
sister. Alternatively, if you have a pet, why not treat them to a new soft toy to play with? The kids
will enjoy making something for their furry friends.
Kids won’t hesitate to get involved with messy projects like these, and there isn’t a better way of
demonstrating the positive effects of recycling than transforming something used and worn into
something beautiful and useful!