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5 Ideas Encouraging Our kids to Reduce Waste, *Upcycle and Reuse….

ecoliving at blog.gorgeouskarma.com

We want to give the best life to our kids. Toys, books, bags, trendiest clothes, cycles, gadgets – we don’t want them to feel deprived. We don’t hesitate once to provide them with materials that will feed their imagination – crayons, chart paper, computer paper, water colours, glitters, glue…

In our well meaning intentions, we sometimes forget that we may also be encouraging the kids to generate immense amount of waste. Paper once scribbled may go into the dustbin in a jiffy, those plastic toys will stop interesting them in a matter of days, bottles of poster colours are emptied in a couple of afternoon activities and tossed in the bin. Why, don’t we keep telling them to clear clutter from their desks, keep the rooms clean. Well, this is a good habit to instill but what about the bigger consequences of first creating all that mess and then dumping it all in the dustbin in the name of clearing clutter? Are we actually clearing
the cutter or just adding more and more mess to our eco-system…?

It’s high time we encouraged our kids to start reusing, recycling, upcycling, buying less and hence generating less waste. Before I delve deeper into this topic, let’s have a quick look at this somewhat lesser known and even less understood term – *upcycle. Upcycling is similar to recycling in that we take something (that we may otherwise throw away) and revamp it into a new form for continued use. Read more about it in my previous post…

Reusing, upcycling – all this can be a lot of fun and deeply satisfying. I will share a few experiences from my effort to reuse old stuff and ingrain this spirit of creating ‘treasure from trash’ in my 3+ daughter – Pari. These are some small things that are now becoming habit forming with us.

1. Revamp old clothes (and no, you don’t need to know sewing for this!)
Instead of buying more and more clothes for the preschoolers and growing children, we can give them a project to revamp their old clothes. It may be as simple as doing some block printing using some fabric colours.

In the picture, Pari (my daughter) and I revamped her old white T Shirt last year by printing ladyfinger cross sections in the Indian flag colours – saffron and green. She was thrilled to bits to see the new look of her T Shirt and infact she wore it for the Independance Day celebrations in her playschool the next day. ater on she went on to colour her father’s old T Shirt as well which he would proudly wear outside during his weekend activities.

2. Good old slate and chalk
For practising aphabets, numbers etc, our older generation relied on the cheap and simple slate and chalk/cacium carbonate pencils.
That practise has somewhat diwndled these days. Come to think of it, a simpe slate can save tons of paper being wasted everyday for these writing practise sessions with the kids.

3. Pamphlets, hand-outs, greeting cards – more useful that you ever thought!
For Pari’s nursery craft projects like “collage of my favourite things”, or “summer/winter/spring collage”, we generally need picture cuttings. I have realized that instead of wasting magazines by cutting out pics for those projects, its a nice idea to save the pamphlets, ad insertions, greeting cards, hand outs in the malls etc. They aways come in handy when looking for pictures of food, veggies, fruits, places, buildings, toys, dresses, festivals etc.

4. Make puzzle out of card board box!
Cut out a not-so-complicated cartoon/picture from any magazine or newspaper. Glue it onto the cardboard. With a very sharp utility knife, you can cut this into pieces to make a homemade puzzle.

5. Old waste materials as tools for painting.
We don’t have to buy expensive paint brushes every now and then for the preschoolers. Old tooth brushes, straws, icecream sticks, tooth picks, feathers – all these make for great brushes/tools to make some unique art work and paintings.

I will keep adding to this list as and when I come up with newer ideas. Do share from your experience in the comments section.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anu September 7, 2009, 11:43 am

    that was interesting… i try to do all that myself and my son enjoys these things… but i remember when i went looking for a slate, the shopkeepers looked at me like i was from another planet.. it took a lot of searching and a lot of curious glances before i was able to buy a lined slate (like those we used to have)… and i had to go all the way to crawford market and ask a dozen people before i found it in a small gullly!
    nice to meet a like minded person..

    • Rashmie Jaaju September 7, 2009, 11:54 am

      Anu, thanks for reading this post. I came across your blogs on travel (http://anushankarn.blogspot.com) and stories (http://anu-tellmeastory.blogspot.com/) – extremely nice and well written. I have a keen interest in story telling for kids and hope to start writing in this genre some day! I will follow your blogs for information on travel destinations, coz, I love to travel and you seem to have traveled quite a bit! Keep up the good work!


  • Garden Canopies August 10, 2010, 4:41 pm

    I notice really quite a number of sites which look intriguing and worth a read. There probably is nothing worse than browsing through endless blah blah blogs just to locate a few which hold your interest. Thanks. Good work!

  • Pritam December 10, 2010, 5:36 am

    Nice ideas!!! I'm gonna implement 3,5th point immediately…
    Thanks Rashmie for sharing gr8 ideas with us!
    Something from my side: My son enjoys origami crafts…He is also doing lots of drawings and colorings, so we use these colored papers for origami crafts.
    Will wait for new ideas….

    • Rashmie Jaaju December 14, 2010, 12:24 pm

      Pritam, thanks for your lovely comment! Wow, origami is a wonderful hobby to follow and requires one to be skillful and imaginative.
      I would love to see some pictures…..

  • Jayadeep Purushothaman June 10, 2011, 2:57 pm

    And teach them composting at home – great way to lead by example! Check dailydump.org for ideas!

  • Lavina November 14, 2012, 9:37 am

    Such lovely ideas Rashmi, i am waiting for my little one (1.5 yr) to grow bigger so that we can have these kinda fun activities..me already love crafting!
    great blog you have, feel very happy when i read through :)