More For Even Less: Keeping Your Recyclables

In the last post, I talked about the value of thrifting to build up your creative toolbox. This time, I’m going to take a look at what happens when we keep some of the things we might normally toss into the trash or the recycle bin. I’m going to show you the value of having your own creative recycle bin.

There are a few things you might be thinking. First, why would I want to keep trash? Second, where am I supposed to store this trash? Well, the possibilities for creative projects are nearly endless when it comes to recyclables and trash. And as they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. How much space these things take up is entirely up to you. We have one small cube container filled with recyclables. This gets filled up, used and re-filled. M is never allowed to have more recyclables in the house than can fit in the container. She and I have a somewhat different definition of what fits, but that’s another story.

Check out this video tour of M’s recycle bin:

The addition of recyclables to your toolbox will allow for more three-dimensional exploration, building sculptures, creatures and contraptions. If you have any engineering kits at home, you can mix those with cardboard or plastic to bring these experiments to life. Check out this claw machine that M and her dad made a few years ago. They made this using an engineering kit, an old moving box and a fishing rod.

What else can you do with recycled materials? Pretty much anything. M loves to make spaceships from boxes. They vary in size. She makes them for her stuffed animals, for herself, and even sometimes for her friends. Moving and shipping boxes do take up a lot of room. We have a garage, so we have a place to keep a few boxes at a time. If you don’t have much space, boxes can be collapsed and tucked behind furniture until you’re ready to use them. Last summer, she made a parade float for her stuffed animals to ride on for the Fourth of July.

M has also uses recyclables to make cute creatures and habitats for animals, like her toy T. Rex. Through the years, we’ve saved money on toys by making our own, like this play stove and microwave using an old box and some paper, or a climbing wall for a doll. Some of these creations are large and take up a bit of space. We don’t keep them forever. Most of them end up in the real recycling bin eventually, after we’ve taken a picture to document the work.

These are just a few examples of what can happen when you keep recycled materials in your home. Your creations will likely look nothing like ours. What you choose to keep and how you choose to use what you’ve got will influence what your child creates. Obviously, we use a lot of boxes. M loves boxes. She just brought a random Amazon box home from school with her the other day, for no apparent reason. You and your child may prefer making towers out of yogurt cups or vases out of glass jars. The possibilities really are endless. Try holding on to a few things and see what happens. Mix these recyclables with your basic toolbox supplies, like markers, paint and glue. See what you come up with.

Have you or your child made something cool with reclaimed or recycled materials? Let me know in the comments or post pictures on my Facebook page.