Most everyone I know recycles at home, but how many of you upcycle? To upcycle, you take something that would otherwise become waste and turn it into something of value. Lately, I've been using the concept to create craft projects to enjoy with my 3-year-old.
My daughter is into exploring and playing safari, so one day as I went to throw out the empty paper towel roll, I had a second thought. "This is not trash!" I said to myself, "It's a telescope!" I pulled out some construction paper, glue, and stickers and called her over. She began to decorate her new telescope. Upon completion, she proudly displayed her masterpiece and ran off to check out the animals on safari. Yes, the paper roll could have been recycled if we hadn't decorated it, but there's a good chance that the mild materials we used will still be accepted by the recycling facility, and we got a lot of useful playtime out of it.
Shoeboxes are another recyclable with endless possibilities. The last shoe box craft we created was a fairy house. We glued, colored, painted, then cut out windows. Finally we completed the inside with a cotton ball bed and yarn curtains. We took it outside to welcome spring fairies. She also uses the house inside for a number of her little toys. I get such pleasure when I see her use that shoebox as often as the fancy doll house we inherited.
Our diaper days are behind us now, but the evidence remains… I have old diaper boxes all around the house that have become storage for toys. As every parent knows, time is precious, and I find clean up to be much easier when it only involves dropping items in a nearby box. As an added bonus, even a 3-year-old can help.
I use upcycling as a way to engage my daughter in lessons about the environment. I tell her that it's important to think twice before throwing something away, plus you get to use your imagination.
What upcycling ideas do you have?