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Apply green thinking to your kid's crafting

Kids create a lot of art!  Here are some tips on how to create art, not waste, and when the time comes, properly dispose of the kid’s crafting.

Kids art wreath made out of origami swans

Create art, not waste: Stick to recyclable or compostable materials

There are methods to reduce the amount of trash you create while you encourage your little one’s crafting at home. Start with the basics, like reusing the back of printer paper for coloring, and keep things simple. Art made from tapeless origami or watercolors, crayons, colored pencils, and/or markers on paper can all be recycled when no longer wanted. To make compostable art, start with paper, make stamps from potatoes or apples, stick to vegetable paints, and glue on natural items like hole-punched leaves with a simple flour and water glue. Paper mache sculptures and homemade playdough can be composted as well. For an older child, try plastic bag crocheting and you can recycle their creation the next time bring your grocery bags to a drop-off.

A quick search online, and you can find a trove of eco-friendly crafting projects for kids, for instance:

Kids art sidewalk chalk art of sun and moon

Think beyond disposable

Creating art doesn’t have to be something you can only do a single time. Try art you can re-start like digital drawing apps, chalkboards, or an Etch-A-Sketch. “Paint” with water on a sidewalk or take pictures together. Have your child make 3D creations like sandcastles, mosaics from natural items like sticks or stones that can be put back or use light tables with blocks or shapes. You can even help kids learn functional art like sewing and mending, knitting or macramé, designing a garden or decorating edible items like cakes or cookies (even if they don’t look great, they’ll still taste good!)

Encourage your child to exercise their creativity and learn lower waste habits at the same time by using fewer materials that must be trashed, providing them with recyclable or compostable supplies, and practicing methods that don’t produce waste.

Kids art 3 Nutcrackers that are not recyclable

Be careful about wish-cycling 

Unfortunately, many art projects just shouldn’t be recycled. Think about them from this perspective: how difficult would they be to separate into individual materials? If a piece of artwork has paint, stickers, glue, googly eyes, glitter, popsicle sticks and feathers, it should go in the trash. Are there plastic pieces? Foam stickers? These are all things that cannot be recycled and shouldn’t be placed in the recycling bin even if they are attached to paper or cardboard.

It’s no fun to place cute art in the trash, so get crafty! Think about ways you could reuse them, perhaps as a decoration on Christmas gifts. And, if your child brings home a drawing or a craft that only has a small amount of tape or glue connected to otherwise recyclable materials, then it may be okay to recycle. Remove what you can before placing it in the blue bin. Not sure if the items is recyclable? Search for it on the Green Disposal Guide.