You may have talked to your kids about many ways they can reduce their carbon footprint, such as recycling, eating seasonally, using alternative energy and carpooling, but what about upcycling? There are many ways that used and unwanted items can be transformed into new and useful products.
In addition to the environmental benefits, upcycling also teaches children skills and resourcefulness that will serve them well later in life as eco-friendly living becomes more common.
Here are some ways you can get creative at home by making use of what just might be laying at the bottom of your recycling bin.
Turn Yogurt Containers Into Piggy Banks
Thoroughly wash and dry a few empty yogurt containers fitted with lids. Cut a coin hole in the center of the lid, and then decorate each with a spray or acrylic paint. You can also glue paper images to the container. This is a fun craft for a birthday party or an easy gift for a sibling present exchange.
Make Glass Jar Pencil Holders
Don’t spend money on a fancy pencil holder; make your own! Recycled jars can be reused to corral pencils, pens, crayons, scissors and other office supplies. To make, wash your jars thoroughly with hot soapy water. Using spray or tempura paint, decorate the outside of the jar with your favorite color, or one that matches your desk decor. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a little more colorful use scrapbooking paper or wallpaper remnants to cover the outside of the jar.
Turn Old Milk or Juice Cartons Into Bird Feeders
This project provides hours of fun even after it’s complete. To create, adults cut two holes in the sides of an empty, thoroughly-washed milk or juice carton. Kids then decorate the container with non-toxic paint or other materials. Once decorated, insert popsicle sticks under each of the holes to act as a perch and insert wire or string through the top of the feeder to hang. Finally fill the feeder with seed, hang it in a tree near a window and prepare to enjoy nature with your kids as feathered visitors drop by to dine.
Upcycling is a great way to go green as an entire family. It’s an educational practice, not to mention an economical one, and is the perfect way to spend an afternoon making cool new objects and art for your home or gifts for your friends and family.
Jan Scott is a food writer, blogger and party planner. She is the food editor for SavvyMom Media, and the creative behind Family Bites, a blog inspired by the simple recipes and party ideas she’s put to the test on her family.