If you’re looking for a fun new way to spend time with your kids, you need look no further than your recycling bin. As part of the new trend in eco-friendliness, families across the country are pulling their unused and unwanted goods out of the rubbish heap and converting them into a myriad of fun and decorative new products. This trend is called upcycling, and it’s a great way to introduce your kids to the concepts of sustainability and environmental awareness.
What makes upcycling ideal for kids is that it’s really just a cheaper, greener version of arts and crafts. You can get most of the materials you need for free and many upcycling projects take less than an afternoon to complete. So if you have some spare time this weekend, try to do it with your kids. Here are four projects to get you started.
- Build a Shipping Pallet Deck Furniture. Pallet furniture has become very popular lately, and for good reason. With just a little bit of glue, some nails and some padding, you can turn old shipping pallets into sturdy, comfortable furniture that will last your family for years. A great instructional guide for a basic pallet couch can be found at HomeJelly. This project is ideal for kids aged 8 and up because it helps them develop basic DIY skills like sanding and driving a screw. Word to the wise – hit the pallets with an electric sander first, if you have one available. This will make fine sanding the couch much easier and will dramatically reduce the risk of splinters.
- Make Sun Jars. Maybe you don’t have the budget to afford solar power for your home just yet, but that’s okay. You can still teach your kids about harnessing the sun’s energy by constructing colorful, decorative sun jars out of some mason jars and old solar lamps. Jason Fitzpatrick wrote an awesome tutorial on how to do this over at Lifehacker. In keeping with the spirit of upcycling, though, I recommend that you try to find old solar pathway lights at a yard sale or flea market rather than buying them new from the store. Not only is this better for the environment, it will save you money on your build as well.
- Construct Your Own Wind Chimes. This is a super fun, super easy project that’s great for young children. All you need is some paint and a few tin cans from your recycling bin. Allow your kids to paint and decorate four or five tins however they see fit, then punch a hole in the bottom of the cans and string them together, chandelier-style, with yarn. Once that’s done, you just need to hang them from your porch to create a sonorous, clanking, wind-powered symphony. For an illustrated guide on how to do this, head over to Hands On as We Grow.
- Turn Old Boxes Into Journals. Every kid should have a journal. Instead of buying one from the store, though, try upcycling a mini-journal out of old cardboard boxes and packaging. This is great because your kids can “personalize” their covers by choosing their favorite cereal or favorite toy packaging. Check out Crafty Stylish for a look at the finished product and a link to an informative video tutorial.
Upcycling is a great way to go green with your family. The next time you’ve got some free time on your hands, give one of these four creative projects a try. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint and provide your home with some cool new art and furniture.
[About the author: Bio: Lucy Clark is a mother of two, an avid DIY-er and a blogger for DIY Mother. Her hobbies include hiking with her family, tending her vegetable garden, and refurbishing antique furniture. Image: bookgrrrrl]