When my daughter started preschool last year, my life as a craft collector began. From rock monsters to paper plate people, our family grew by the day. While I always welcomed the creative creatures and inventions into our home, I was disappointed that many of them were adorned with things that had likely been purchased at dollar stores (i.e. pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, googly eyes), which in addition to being wasteful also made most of them choking hazards for my younger son (80% of the kids had baby brothers or sisters at home).
I was excited to learn about The Imagination Factory, a website dedicated to helping children turn solid waste into art. Marilyn Brackney, founder of The Imagination Factory, is an artist and educator out of Columbus, Indiana who has been reusing materials for art projects for many years. In 1996, she launched her website where she helps visitors learn how to use trash for activities such as drawing, collage, and sculpting. The site also offers educational information for kids, such as how to be a paper saver. Brackney believes that it is often the children who inspire the adults to be more environmentally conscious.
“I’m pleased to see that adults are starting to reuse and recycle, but I focus my attention on children because they will more easily adopt these habits and incorporate them into their lifestyles. Kids are the ones who will make a difference in helping to save the environment. “
Brackney’s main goal is to increase awareness of the shrinking landfill space by encouraging recycling in place of dumping. My favourite part about this site is the Trash Matcher, which helps parents and teachers design eco minded crafts and art activities around the solid waste they have in their homes and classrooms. I also love the Trash Pizza, which helps children visualize (in pie chart form) how much of each type of trash is buried in landfills each year.
“Our pizza will have “everything on it,” just like the ones you order at your local pizzeria. Of course, you wouldn’t want to eat THIS pizza, but it will help you become more aware of the amount of trash and garbage we throw away and the composition of our landfills. “
The Trashasaurus Rex, is The Imagination Factory’s mascot. This dinosaur is made entirely out of postconsumer solid waste and is stuffed with things such as plastic bags and containers. The mittens and gloves along the dinosaur’s body symbolize each person’s contribution to landfill waste.
The question of how to recycle crafts (eco minded or not) after they’re no longer fascinating still remains a mystery in my house. While the Trashasaurus Rex may be having its 16th anniversary, our own no-names have shorter shelf lives. It’s easy enough to put the paper parts in the recycling bin, but when they’ve got googly eyes and yarn glued on, the dissection can be quite grueling. Suggestions?
Related Posts about Eco Minded Arts and Crafts
- Trinkets for Imaginative Play
- Climate Change Through Children’s Eyes
- Teaching Kids About Trash
- Turning Trash into Treasure
Image courtesy of The Imagination Factory
[This post was written by Tara Benwell.]