Recycling fun with art and craft

Australians are willing recyclers with 91% of us agreeing it is the right thing to do according to Planet Ark, a not-for-profit environmental foundation. Employees also appreciate the recycling habits of their workplace with 78% of people saying they feel good that their employer provides recycling services, Planet Ark states.   

As well as helping the environment, recycling can be great fun for kids. With a bit of inspiration, you can make recycling fun with art and craft.

For the Schools Recycle Right Challenge, an initiative of National Recycling Week, Planet Ark developed the Recycled Arts and Crafts Guide. It aims to spark ideas for early childhood educators about the role of reusing and recycling resources for environmental sustainability.

To get started, you will first need a ready supply of recycled materials. You could make a list of the items you’ll need for your first few projects and display it near the daily sign in register. It is also valuable to feature the list in your newsletter or as a send home sheet to let families know you are planning some recycling fun with art and craft. Encourage parents to put it on the fridge or next to the bin so they can have a regular reminder of what to keep, such as textile offcuts, unwanted colour samples from paint manufacturers, beads, foam, cardboard, ribbons and cards. Op shops are also a great source of materials for art and craft.

Once you’ve completed some of your activities, why not host a recycled arts and craft exhibition? It’s a great way to involve families or even the local community and raises awareness about the importance of reusing and recycling. You might even attract an event sponsor or some local media coverage. There are also many recycled art competitions hosted by local councils and art groups that you might like to enter with a group project.

Here are some of our favourite ideas to make recycling fun with art and craft from Planet Ark’s Recycled Arts and Crafts Guide. You might like to try these in your centre:

  • Provide your children with a variety of used, recycled and ‘waste’ materials and ask them to make whatever they want.
  • Use unwanted fridge magnets to create new, crafty magnets for use in your centre or for children to take home. Just keep in mind that your magnet can’t be too heavy or it will fall off the fridge.
  • Create a recycled mosaic by assembling many small individual pieces of materials into one large design. Your mosaic can be made out of old magazines or other materials, such as brightly coloured lolly wrappers or shopping catalogues.
  • Get the whole class together to work on a Bottle Cap Mandala. The general rule of thumb is anything smaller than a milk bottle cap is too small to put in your recycling bin. This is because they will fall through the gaps in the machinery of the recycling facility and will not be recycled. This activity raises awareness about not putting small items in the recycling while creating a bright and colourful work of art over time.
  • Make paper maché out of old newspapers and magazines.

Remember, you can reuse or recycle any materials left over after your arts and crafts activities. If you need information on how or where to recycle a particular item, visit Recycling Near You.

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