Consume Less, Buy Only What You Need: Kids Activities
March 2023 | #MyCarbonCyclePledge
Kids are always busy! Whether they are playing, creating arts and crafts or reading, kids love to stay active. These activities can create a lot of waste, though it is not intentional. As the adults who provide children with toys, craft supplies and books, we can work with kids to make environmentally friendly choices so that everyone learns how to consume less and reduce waste together.
If there is one thing children love, it’s toys. Toys are wonderful, but they can be a big source of waste. Children are often excited for a specific toy that they may lose interest in, resulting in a quick turnover in toys. To combat the waste associated with these toy turnovers, consider joining local social media pass along sites to buy used toys from other families in your community. This not only avoids purchasing new items that will eventually end up in a landfill, but also reduces your carbon footprint by avoiding pollution associated with shipping. Additionally, new toys often come in plastic packaging. This plastic packaging can be avoided by buying used toys. If you are going to buy a new toy, consider buying from more environmentally friendly companies¹. Best of all, normalize not having an excess of toys in your home. Too many toys make the child’s environment cluttered and overwhelming which may stifle creative play.
Arts and crafts are another essential part of childhood and are a great way to repurpose materials. Having basic supplies like paper, crayons, markers, scissors and glue on hand is one way to ensure kids have a creative outlet. Recycled materials can be added to those supplies to inspire craft ideas, demonstrate the value of reuse and add more to a child’s creation. For example, old paper calendars or magazines that are typically single-use objects can be reused to make collages and vision boards, transforming them from landfill-bound materials to a beautiful art project. Supplies such as plastic containers, toilet paper rolls and lids are more examples of materials that can be used in a variety of ways. Use single-use plastics such as yogurt or sour cream containers to sow seeds. Turn your numerous toilet paper rolls into cute creatures². Give plastic lids a new life with fun and easy crafts.³ Save documents printed single-sided from school or work for drawing. Melt down old crayons in cupcake tins to make new, multicolored crayons.
Finally, books are the easiest way to reduce waste. Cut down on buying new books by becoming a member at your local public library. Public libraries are free and are an incredible resource for not only books, but audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, games, puppets and more. Take your kids to play and read at the library while you ask the librarian for a list of items that can be borrowed. You may be surprised by what you find!
Perhaps the most important part of reducing waste with children is the example it sets. If children are taught about reducing, reusing and recycling and shown how fun it can be, these practices will become their new norm and create habits that will last a lifetime. These simple changes in consumption are one way to reduce our carbon footprint!
– Written by Gina Walter, Education & Volunteer Coordinator & Sarah Levinthal, Youth Educator